Information Wants to be Free

MLWeek2016-FLHead

It’s amazing how much high-value information is available today for free.  I used to be a huge bibliophile with science and techbooks covering most of my Palo Alto apartment save for servers and monitors.  Back in the day good tech books would run about $30-40 apiece and O’Reilly the most common publisher in my collection.

Packt Publishers is one of my favorite technical publishers now and a great example of how once-expensive technical knowledge is approaching free.  Packt gives away electronic versions of one of it’s technical titles everyday on their website.  This week the free books are themed around Machine Learning.

In addition, there are countless well-written and professionally edited-like quality tech publications available for free.  This starts with open-source projects like the mozilla developer network and W3 Schools (covering topics like HTML, CSS, JavaScript) to private and/or open source initiatives like R, Python or AngularJS.  You can even find gamified tech and coding support at sites like StackOverflow and StackExchange.

apprentice

It seems an alien world, but not so long ago information (especially specialized vocational information) was jealously guarded and hidden from outsiders.  To learn how to become an artists or craftsman would require apprenticing yourself for years to a master in exchange for learning trade secrets typically working your way up from apprentice, craftsman, journeyman, master and eventually grandmaster.  Artists and craftsmen would also organize into gilds to bring order to trade (for taxation), protect their knowledge from outsiders and economically leverage their monopoly on.

 

Crests

 

Instead of paying $10-60k/yr at college like today, young apprentices would be bound to work for their masters for generally 7-9 years.  Benjamin Franklin ran away from his apprenticeship at his brother’s print shop under unusual circumstances.

The trend towards more quality free technical information favors the intellectual and curious over this more historically important accidents of birth and family connections  – at least in technology and for the rank and file workers.

 

 

 

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