It is possible to do research and education in a new way, one that ramps up the power of research to do incredible things. The innovation I have in mind can be constructed and used by any determined group of gathered individuals. It can also make money — lots of money.
The platform bears the dullish name, “miniversity,” since I am not particularly creative in the world of nomenclature. The research structure comprises three features that make it powerful: division of labor, specialization and then re-integration. Here’s what I mean by this mumbo-jumbo —
You find and recruit 60 friends who want to be wealthy and love to do research, and then train them. They break down into 20 groups of three people each. Each team specializes in a topic of its choice (the more diversified the topics, the better); then each team in effect, by producing daily a specific kind of report — an abstract — teaches all the others what it has been learning.
This amounts to 19 teams in different subjects each teaching the others what they learn daily, causing an extreme broad (comprehensive) education across a diverse mountain of subjects; and then it cross-references each discipline with the others, creating synergy that accelerates the educational process. The upshot? It creates a new class of hyper-smart people in fairly short order, who can make hundreds of millions of dollars fairly easily.
The money making strategy is called “value accretion.” Here, you use your “group intellect” (the platform is in effect a “group mind”) to make good money. You simply find an economic entity (corporation, city, nation, etc) and improve its bottom line, say, 10% through innovative research — your specialty. Then you create the business proposal that explain to them just how to effect the profitable changes and request a 10% commission on the value you have created. You are thus simply asking them to accept free money — 90% of it. The other ten percent — payable in their stock shares if possible, will accrue value at about 10% annually. Cash depreciates in value by inflation, but equity securities (i.e. stocks) INCREASE their value 10% on average yearly. Always choose the appreciating assets, not the depreciating assets.
The diversifying strategy of the Wall Street portfolio is the same as that of the intellectual assets of the team groups — the topics for each team to study should include the history and philosophy of the sciences, literary criticism, medical studies and stock market studies. The more diverse, the better. Within the team, each member should pick a subset of the team topic for his or her concentration of study.
The standard abstract has a particular “cookie cutter” format — predictably the same every time. It consists of a “shrunken book” somewhat like the notorious “cliff notes,” only it is far more helpful. The director of the research group should, with the help of many others, create a bibliography of books to “shorthand read” and reduce these to abstracts for all the teams to read and study. The bibliography should have at least 2000 books on it. This means each team member will have read the equivalent of about 2000 books by the years end — each year.
The bibliography should be taken from only the very best books in its twenty different areas and their subset areas. You can find these easily by calling university professors and asking for a copy of their top 100 books (they pass out these bibs to their students upon request) in their specialty area. They might email them to you, or have them readily available online already, posted to a blog or what have you.
The abstract photocopies certain parts of the book, creating a strategic shorthand version of the book — last chapter first (you should know the telos of a book at the outset so you know where it is going when you start), then a chapter comprised of the last two and then the first two paragraphs of each intervening chapter, from chapter 2 to the middle chapter; then do the same for the “middle chapter next” through to the end. Append a critique of the book at the end, produced by a world-class critic in that field.
By reading a large number of critical reviews written by the world’s finest, the reader learns to model excellent critical strategies and to think as the best critics think when they weigh their mature judgments. This modeling turns the student into a superior critic himself, and that from the helpful vantage point of many varying disciplines (the trans-disciplinary outlook transcends any one paradigm or frame of reference, yielding wisdom, not just knowledge) simultaneously.
The 80-20 rule comes into play here. A reader gains 80% of the benefit of the book while reading less than 20% of its content. Then comes the clustering to increase that benefit over time. This means that each team should group several different books around some one more general topic to create its abstracts. Here, each “shorthand book” fills in the blanks of its topical neighbors (and vice-versa), creating an extremely well-rounded grasp of the topic in short order.
Every corporation, every kingdom, every city council, and every church, should have a research group like this to drive forward its agenda and promote its own interests. Corporations that use this research model will find it to be worth billions of dollars in its return on investment. So will nations that put it to good use. When various universities (perhaps a group of students will use this to each acquire in concent with the others a Ph.D. — highly recommended since it makes the task FAR easier) and corporations discover the power of this model (a research platform called the “miniversity”), it will create a new wave of research groups who can publish their various results in the forms of books to sell, or post them online, enabling each group to do its work even MORE efficiently.
I expect that this developing network of miniversities will utterly transform not only the economic environment — more money for everyone through the creation of “intellectual capital production” labor — but that it will greatly accelerate the process of innovation in every field of study and then some (i.e. create some new disciplines as well). Recall the “patent studies” innovation in my previous blog post as an example of what I might mean here.
For theorist-types like myself, I would like briefly to note that the miniversity can be thought of in terms of Moore’s law, the tendency of technology to shrink in half in size and double in power at the same time, about every five years or so these days. If we think of the miniversity as a self-conscious application of Moore’s law to the academic environment, isolating its most salient and productive features, and then concentrating these (research, critical thinking, critical reading, best books, etc) in a model which forms something like a shrunken replica of the university, we need add only one important feature that drives its ultimate success — synergy.
Synergy is the mutally-reinforcing consent of all the parts (each team buttressing the others in a collectively reflexive manner), then we can more easily grasp the source of its power. It employs three basic features — division of labor, specialization (within each team) and then re-integration. The re-integration feature creates the synergy, so that, as Yogi has so majestically put it — Its like a vicious cycle without all the vice!! This mutually reinforcing character — the source of the miniversity power — should be effected by a team called the “integration team,” whose primary task consists of causing what each team learns to transfer across all other teams (and then also reflexively).
Another team might have as it primary task the study of anything and everything that does nothing but improve the efficiency all the other teams. I call this team “NED,” a funny acronym that abbreviates the “Non-Euclidean department.” The term intends a team with no real limits to its goals — or more humorously, it exists solely to defeat the impossible. Now the ways and means of each teams best productive methods should alter as each team learns more about learning itself. NED should lead the way in the study of heuristics — the art and, or science of learning progressively more effectively (profitably).
After pondering this post at length — the heart of the wise weighs its answers — please consider getting together with some friends or colleagues to create your own miniversity. It should lead the way into a brand new era of fruitful discovery and profitability sure to bless all. It’s time to power up in the 21st century.