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“The Internet and public services… “

Posted by: | November 1, 2011 | No Comment |

The Internet.

It’s bigger than every newspaper, television network, radio station and CB line combined.

The transfer of information from one side of the world, once taking days, weeks, or even months, is now instantaneous.

Through the brilliance of Skype, my next-door neighbor can speak face to face with members of his family back in Korea in real time.

Through the brilliance of Facebook, I can carry on several typed conversations at once with friends and family members from all over the world, while ordering a pizza on another tab, playing Angry Birds on a third, AND watching old episodes of Beverly Hills 90210.

All from my computer.

But I can still do more…

I can see pictures of places I’ve never dreamed of traveling to, like the Great Wall of China, and live the experience of visiting firsthand, as best I can, from the comfort of my Barcalounger in Loudon County, VA.

I can read about and write about and create information about topics I wouldn’t ever dream of studying in the classrooms I (choose to) inhabit several hours a week.

First through stumbleupon.com, and now through a real web gem I’ve stumbled upon, khanacademy.org, I’ve been able to absorb more information for practical use than I confidently feel I’ve ever before absorbed in a University classroom.

And the information, produced by regular people in their regular way of relating information, with the help of the infinitely marvelous YouTube video (pause, drag left, play = the way to communicate with the younger “30-second spot” generations) is easier to understand than any professor I’ve ever met has made it.


If you don’t have time to watch the whole video, just skip ahead to 3:30 and listen to the words.

(And when you do get a chance, watch the whole video. The lyrics, combined with the visual images, moved me to tears).

“The Internet and public services provide free education. So it really ain’t a case of “rich” or “poor.” It’s a case of self-motivation and nothing more.”

But what is education? The transfer of information from one learned individual to another.

And what is one of the most valued commodities known to man?


Mark Cuban, billionaire owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, and one of my favorite people on the planet, relates some of the stories of his young, post-collegiate days that turned out to be the earliest days of his meteoric rise on his blog: blogmaverick.com.

In one post, he details his early days as a 24 year-old computer software salesman, living in a 3-bedroom apartment in Dallas with five other friends, driving “a ’77 FIAT X19 that burned a quart of oil that I couldn’t afford every week.”

Working on commission and a meager hourly wage, Cuban found early on that his sales would increase when he knew more about the products than the consumers did.

“Turns out,” he says, “not a lot of people ever bothered to RTFM (read the frickin’ manual), so people started really thinking I knew my stuff. As more people came in, because I knew all the different software packages we offered, I could offer honest comparisons and customers respected that.”

He was absorbing information, and benefiting directly from it, without having to set foot in a classroom.

Granted, Cuban did graduate from college with a business degree. And he may have, in a class or two, heard a professor mention the importance of reading the frickin’ manual. And if that’s the case, then this story has no relevance what-so-ever.

But otherwise, Cuban used the same intuitive spirit that’s alive in a large percentage of the world’s population to not only get ahead a little, but to gain a foothold at the base of a gigantic mountain that became known as his multi-billion dollar, NBA Championship-winning career.

So, what’s the point of all this. Don’t go to college?

No, that’s definitely not it. Although, some of my classmates from years past would argue that their four years would have been better spent learning a trade on the job, instead of compiling tens-of-thousands of dollars of debt that they can’t pay back because they’re “under-qualified” to earn more than $24,000 a year.

The point is that you should take every opportunity to learn.

And THAT is what the Internet is for.

It’s there, 24 hours a day, for you to learn from, free of charge.

And while there aren’t yet any Universities that I know of that award “Master’s of the Internet” degrees, that’s no reason to discredit the Internet as a sub-standard learning tool and cast it aside.

Because when you do earn your degree, and you go into a job interview hoping to get your first real taste of adulthood, you won’t be quizzed on the specific date of the beginning of the French Revolution. You’ll be asked what you know about pvc pipes (or whatever product it is that you’ll be selling).

And if you’re smart, you spent the entire week leading up to the interview Google-ing “pvc pipe.”

That’s what gets you the job. And that’s what gets you ahead.

“It’s a case of self-motivation, and nothing more.”

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