Lately I have been talking about how automation is going to change the labor market. I think one of the results of this automation is more free time. Our economy requires a certain amount of work be performed. In the last decade, productivity per worker has improved faster than economic growth, therefore we have high unemployment. At least that is part of the reason. So if I am right, what will we do with our free time? Obviously people want to go on vacation but that’s not the only way to do recreation. People also like to take up hobbies. How do we learn to do those hobbies? Well, YouTube certainly makes it easier to do that.
What about learning for learning’s sake? I think people naturally like to learn. Children especially love to learn. Why do we think that once you graduate from college that your learning is finished? When classes are offered online for free, loads of people will take them. What fascinates me is niche classes. Oh sure we have thousands of English classes offered every day in public schools but a class on… lockpicking? Cool!
There’s a guy on YouTube who completely loves lockpicking. So, he has created a 24 part class on how to do it. I haven’t watched the whole thing but it seems really well done.
This is disruptive innovation. Large players tend to ignore niche players. Over time though, those niches start to move into the large player’s markets. They take the low hanging fruit and disrupt the business model.
Does a free lockpicking class mean the end of Harvard? No of course not, but every avalanche starts with a single rock moving. There is a market for learning that isn’t being effectively served. Somebody is going to change that.