i mentioned this a while back, and i am sure someone has actually studied this in detail -- but, having just discussed it again with kjwl, i must say that i am very excited about the future of education. reading david mccullough's 1776 a few months back it struck me that the american generals in the opening days of the revolutionary war were mostly considered qualified to lead by the mere fact of having had access to and studied war strategy books. mccullough notes that at the time it was considered quite reasonable to master a skill or a new body of work on your own through books. after a few centuries in which it feels like education followed the industrial revolution towards institutionalization, centralization, standardization, and accreditation we are coming out the other side... and with the aid of the internet it is again becoming both reasonable and acceptable to learn without centralized structure, and to ply a trade without a officially sanctioned degree. as much as widener library will remain a wonderful and meaningful place, i cannot see it - or harvard - holding the same top down importance to education and the landscape of learning in the 21st century as it did in the preceding 200 years.