It's quite the journey we've embarked upon—an exploration into the metamorphosis of internet culture. In the beginning, it was a wild frontier, a canvas for hackers and visionaries to scribble upon. But now, it's a landscape that's evolved, often subtly, into something different—something that perhaps wasn't entirely unforeseen. Today, we're delving into this transformation, tracing the path from the digital rebels' haven to the modern stronghold of credentialism.
From Uncharted Territories to Well-Trodden Paths
Imagine, if you will, a time when the internet was a playground for the curious and the daring. It was a space where hackers and nerds congregated, their discussions echoing with the enchanting song of innovation. These digital explorers embraced the uncharted, unencumbered by formalities. However, the shift from those early days to today's highly structured corporate landscape has been nothing short of an intriguing metamorphosis.
Credentialism: The Currency of the Digital Age
The once-untamed wilderness of the internet has given way to an environment where credentials have become the new currency. This phenomenon, dubbed "credentialism," has taken root, nudging aside the renegades and pioneers. In this new narrative, degrees, diplomas, and certifications have transformed from mere indicators of expertise into the cornerstone of career advancement. But do these accolades truly reflect mastery, or have we veered off course?
Innovation's Cost in the Era of Credentialism
As we dissect the ramifications of this shift, it becomes evident that the rise of credentialism hasn't been without its costs. The very spirit that kindled innovation has been dimmed by the allure of certificates and diplomas. The creative mavericks who once defined the internet landscape have found themselves constrained by a system that places more weight on formal education than on unbridled creativity. Innovation's price tag, it seems, is conformity.
Debunking the Myth: Credentials and True Mastery
While the masses chase after diplomas and grades, there are outliers who refuse to buy into the myth. A personal voyage through trials and tribulations—failing 17 subjects in my undergrads, then getting fired from companies that were on the verge of shutting down—uncovered the truth that transcends the credentialist mirage. True mastery isn't an checkbox of credentials, it is a vague, unearned sense of satisfaction that most of us are chasging. It's a process of adaptation, of honing skills, of recognizing that credentials alone are a hollow echo in the realm of expertise. This is a well-known truth in the tech circles of San Fransisco and Bangalore, however, very few companies follow through. I’m a product of credentialism myself - but my credentials are born out of the spite of being rejected.
Resurgence of Authenticity: The Return to Core Values
Pockets of academics in American, and even European universities are returning to a focus on creating value. The mainstream narrative, due to folks like Karpathy, are shifting from a Steve Jobs view of the world (where you must learn how to sell) to a Hotz-view of the world, where you must learn how to code and how to hack. There are no underground basements of sweaty college-aged kids hacking on a project, instead they not gather on Discord, and ping pong “LFGs” without PRs, or any professional, corporate approach really. Again, not to say those things aren’t important, I love a professional - the John Wicks, but time to time, we need a fucking Hulk.
Another shift in narrative I’m observing is a shift from Software to Hardware. Don’t get me wrong, innovations exist in all realms, but due to incentives of the software industry, people from other realms (physicists, mathematicians, electrical engineers, even doctors) have made the shift to corporate software. We must move back. I started this by deep diving mathematical cryptography, semiconductors and genetics. I’m still on week 3 of undergraduate courses, but that is how we learn. That is how we evolve.
Disclaimer: I am testing a new workflow, where I record my essays on an app I am developing, get a summary of it via AI, and then edit and post. Let me know how it sounds!