Monday, July 20, 2020

The New World

brown sailboat in beach under white sky

The pandemic has not only brought death and economic harm, it has also surfaced the vulnerability of institutions and organizations. A few examples:
  • Many of the offices that were once filled with workers will need less space in the post-pandemic world. People have found that working from home several days a week has definite attractions and employers have seen productivity rise. The old workplace won't be the same. I predict that many high-rise office buildings will become combinations of business and residential sites. Eventually many people may work a few floors down from where they work. We will also see more work/home blur. [That's not necessarily good.]
  • Certainly universities are not going to return to normal. Most of them are bloated and over-priced. Their heavy political slant has alienated a large portion of the country. They have far too many administrators. Distance learning will increase and linger, community colleges will be seen as a bargain, and getting certificates in specific disciplines - instead of spending a lot of time and money on a bachelor's degree - will become common. Many degrees will disappear.
  • Elementary and high schools. The magnifying glass that is moving to the universities will eventually shift to the lower grades. The stories will not be pretty.
  • Newspapers - no surprise here - are also in trouble. People want basic facts from reporters and not from columnists disguised as reporters. Despite repeated warnings, journalism as we once knew it stepped off a high cliff a few years ago and is nearing the bottom. Watch for the popularity of news summaries and independent journalism. Radio should also thrive as newspapers shrink.
A driving force behind much of the above is the realization that the "experts" are often less than expert and that various institutions that have coasted beneath the surface for years need to be carefully and periodically reviewed. 

[Wake up, boards of regents!]

Predictions are easy to make and all of them, including the above, should be batted about and challenged, but that's fine.

We are in a new world in which skepticism and open debate will be very healthy.

Let's revisit this in two years and see what's happened.

[Revised: 9:54 AM 7/20/20]

[Photo by Austin Neill at Unsplash]

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