Shirky thinks Bady isn’t cynical enough about the future, but Shirky isn’t nearly cynical enough to understand what Higher Education is. Knowledge acquisition, is for many students, not the end of higher education, but the means to the end of opening a path to prosperity or even upward mobility.

The course we are on is that as changing climate, ongoing economic depression, and the persistant “hollowing out” of late capitalism make life for the former “middle-class” and aspirational members of the upper lower-class worse and worse, neither public higher-ed in the mode of the university, nor any new form of higher ed (MOOC or otherwise) will provide the kind of access public college once did (indeed this is already happening). The elite institutions will likely still be a typical part of the career path of elites, but measures put into place to allow a select few students from outside the existing elites to participate in that path will (further) degrade.