Sometimes it really is hard to tell the difference between a Thomas Friedman column and the parody that spews forth from the Thomas Friedman op-ed column generator. Today is one of those days. So, it is this real Friedman, or a computer-generated, Daily Show-worthy parody:
I just spent the last two days at a great conference convened by M.I.T. and Harvard on “Online Learning and the Future of Residential Education” — a k a “How can colleges charge $50,000 a year if my kid can learn it all free from massive open online courses?”
You may think this MOOCs revolution is hyped, but my driver in Boston disagrees. You see, I was picked up at Logan Airport by my old friend Michael Sandel, who teaches the famous Socratic, 1,000-student “Justice” course at Harvard, which is launching March 12 as the first humanities offering on the M.I.T.-Harvard edX online learning platform. When he met me at the airport I saw he was wearing some very colorful sneakers.
This column . . . is real. From today. Commence giggling. And guffawing. And ROTFLMAO. It has all the classic elements: the pretentious name-dropping; the travelogue; the little detail about “very colorful sneakers.” Those sneakers probably didn’t have suction cups, since you don’t need them in a flat world.
The shame of it is that the rest of the column makes some excellent points about how the new world of online courses (I’m starting another one next week) is going to upend higher education. But the miasma of Tom Friedmanism makes it impossible to take him seriously.