The Old Business Was Perfect and The Future Is Impossible: What Educators and Other Old World Types Need to Understand About The Information Revolution

This week the Chicago Sun-Times laid off its entire photo desk: 28 staffers.

If journalism professors and other educators still haven't got the message, this might be the time: It is a form of malpractice to simply train students in the Old World ways.

In my view, it's a cruel hoax to tell students that experience in school with specialized "professional" equipment will entitle them to discrete jobs in a collapsing industry that relies on scarcity and gatekeepers.

As Seth Godin explains in the video above: The newspaper business was perfect.  The recorded music  business was perfect. (He might have added that the DVD business was perfect.) They are no more.

Still many (most?) teachers of journalism, music and film are preparing students in the Old Ways - without any understanding of what the New World will require of them.


From the perspective of the Old World, the New World is impossible.

We're in the middle of an information revolution that is reshaping the way people work and live, just as surely as the Industrial Revolution changed everything 200 years ago.  The media businesses are leading the way into this New World - but many other businesses are being disrupted, and the old ways of making and receiving things (like news, stock quotes, classified ads,  recorded music,  films, etc.) are rapidly falling away.  It can't be stopped.  And it doesn't mean that there will be nothing to replace the Old World  or that news, music and filmmaking have ended.

As we should have learned circa 1800 -  "revolutions start by destroying the perfect and then they enable the impossible."

The problem for teachers (in 1813 and 2013), who have grown comfortable teaching the Old Ways, how do you prepare students for the impossible?

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