Saturday, May 02, 2009
A follow up: the university as it could be
x-posted to The Kugelmass Episodes
I thought I’d give us two glimpses of what higher learning might look like if we followed Mark Taylor’s excellent advice about “ending the university as we know it” in favor of a non-specialized, interdisciplinary series of collaborations. These are based on experiences from the past two days. In the first example, we have a situation that brings together business smarts, game theory, wellness, the study of ancient cultures, and an in-depth knowledge of the Federal bureaucracy. In the second example, we have an interdisciplinary conversation that calls upon history, psychology, “guerrilla marketing,” the World Wide Web, advanced strategy, economic modeling, and metaphysics.
SCENE 1: NEAR A POKER TABLE AT THE BICYCLE CASINO
Floor manager: Now what’s that you’ve got, Adam?
Adam: These are my new pills. Absolutely fantastic.
Floor manager, picking up the white and green bottle: Where are they from?
Adam: From China, near my home country. I have already sold about two million advance orders.
Floor manager: What do they do?
Adam: They do everything, they help you as a man, they burn fat.
Floor manager: How many should you take per day?
Adam: As many as you need for your own personal goals and performance.
Floor manager: Well, you see, I probably should take them, because I’m looking to lose about twenty five pounds. I don’t think I’m a fat man, you see, but I am a little, you know, thick. I’m physically a bit thick, and I should exercise, but I just don’t working these hours.
Adam: You could probably lose forty pounds taking enough of these. I’ll tell you what. You take this bottle right here, and if you like them, then tell your friends. Free of charge.
Floor manager: Well I’ll do that, and I’ll have some customers for you for sure if these things work.
Nearby player: Have they been approved by the FDA?
Adam: Almost! Maybe by June. Right now they are on the FDA list for “special grasses.”
SCENE 2: NEAR A PASTRY TABLE AT A BAGEL PLACE
Guy with a greasy moustache: I mean, I think all of this has to do with strategy. It’s like a game of chess. Do you like chess? I used to play when I was a kid. Actually I won a big chess tournament at the age of twelve.
Guy with a shaved head: Yes, um, I don’t play chess as seriously as that, but I like the idea of the game. Game of kings. So you say that this strategical stuff can also work with marketing?
Greasy moustache: I’m not saying it can work with marketing. I’m saying that it IS marketing. Everything else has been left behind.
Shaved head: Where do I get the rest of these books? And how do I apply them?
Greasy moustache: Well applying them is the hard part. Because you really have to make it a part of your daily life. That’s why hypnosis has been so good for me, because I don’t have the discipline actually. But I must have had the desire bouncing around somewhere in here, because I wanted to see the hypnotherapist so that I could make guerrilla marketing more central to my approach. And boom, that office is just five minutes from where I work.
Shaved head: And now there’s a second book?
Greasy moustache: That’s right. And I tell you what. I want you to get that second book so bad that I am going to give you twenty dollars. Here’s twenty dollars. Go on Amazon and order it, and if it costs more than twenty dollars, you contact me and tell me and I’ll make up the difference.
Shaved head: But you say these aren’t new strategies.
Greasy moustache: Well, to you and me they are new, to the general public it’s like wow, I’ve never thought of that, fantastic. But actually it’s all very old. Alan Greenspan was talking about it five years ago. But the real revelation is that Abraham Lincoln was thinking about these things during the Civil War, and that’s why the South lost.
Shaved head: I heard something like that. I love this because it’s like a springboard to my own thinking, you know, the stuff I’ve been able to pick up.
Greasy moustache: Exactly. Which is why these books are like soil for other books. That’s what I call them. Because they take readers and turn them into authors. And at that moment where you say--
Shaved head: --"I’m an author"--
Greasy moustache: Yes, and you recognize that in yourself, the Author Moment, something metaphysical happens, and that’s synergy. Because, you know, if I thought that there was absolutely no synergy, no authorship, and it was all just sell sell sell, I couldn’t do it. I would lose heart.
This post is really dumb.