> 1. Experts do not deserve any special role in declaring what is known. Knowledge is now democratically determined, as it should be.
Who said that, and where? "Experts" are not excluded from Wikipedia or, in fact, any other online community. In a way, Quora, StackOverflow and friends recognize the value of the expert. The only difference is that now you don't have to pay thousands of dollars and travel to another country to ask these experts questions. You don't even have to attend university! It's about inclusion, not exclusion. Is the OP bitter about the fact that any teenager with a web browser can now learn how to write a radix sort whereas he had to go to university to learn it? Or is he bitter about the fact that said teenager has already learned a good chunk of important CompSci material even before graduating from high school and thus feels that a formal CS degree might be overkill? Sure, you can't learn philosophy at home, and you sure as hell can't build a particle accelerator at home, but anything that does not require special infrastructure that only a university can provide is up for grabs. Think maths, compsci, even design.
> 2. Books are an outmoded medium because they involve a single person speaking from authority. In the future, information will be developed and propagated collaboratively, something like what we already do with the combination of Twitter, Facebook, blogs, Wikipedia, and various other websites.
Once again, I don't know where he's getting this from. Does he know about the Kindle? Or iBooks? People still buy books when they need in-depth knowledge. The only time I look at Wikipedia instead of a book is when I'm doing initial research on a topic or when I feel I only need surface knowledge of the topic at hand. Sometimes I will buy a book because it was cited on Wikipedia. Does the OP know about the books people publish online? Real World Haskell, Dive Into Python, The Architecture of Open Source Applications, Clever Algorithms to mention a few CS-related books. Then there are a bunch of books on analog and digital electronics, math and statistics, all published on the web. A book does not have to be in the form of printed pages to convey knowledge. And remember: the people writing these books are still "experts", they still speak from "authority", they still have an "individual voice". Social media merely aggregates the work of individuals.
> 3. The classics, being books, are also outmoded. They are outmoded because they are often long and hard to read, so those of us raised around the distractions of technology can’t be bothered to follow them; and besides, they concern foreign worlds, dominated by dead white guys with totally antiquated ideas and attitudes. In short, they are boring and irrelevant.
What "classics" are we talking about here? Are we talking about philosophical texts? If yes, I don't think any geek questions the value of the work of Socrates. OTOH, the value of fiction is debatable. I personally love reading classics because I want to learn about people from another era. Some people prefer to read contemporary authors, and I don't think they're any worse off. David Foster Wallace has as much to say as Tolstoy.
4. The digitization of information means that we don’t have to memorize nearly as much. We can upload our memories to our devices and to Internet communities. We can answer most general questions with a quick search.
This is an age-old debate. What is more important: understanding why the Roman empire fell or knowing when it fell? Besides, if something is worth memorizing, you almost always end up memorizing it involuntarily. For example, many developers know regex syntax by heart. Same goes for human language: after looking up the same thing 20 times, you end up remembering it. The argument geeks are making is: why remember inconsequential data when you can be analyzing it instead?
> 5. The paragon of success is a popular website or well-used software, and for that, you just have to be a bright, creative geek. You don’t have to go to college, which is overpriced and so reserved to the elite anyway.
So going to college is the paragon of success? I'm sorry, but building and running a business is a far more difficult task than getting through college. IMO, of course. I do not judge people by the degrees they have. My opinions might be a bit jaded, though; college in India produces graduates who are pretty much unemployable.
Looks like the OP met a crackpot on IRC and painted every geek with the same broad brush.
1) The difference is that the experts' opinions are not being amplified anymore,as there is no reliable "authority index" on the web yet. Should we trust wikipedia to build, say, LHC?
2) People actually read less books http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2007/12/24/071... . I guess he's referring to works of fiction and philosophy that require long linear reading, not reference material.
3) Classics are called "classics" because they convey fundamental ideas that shape our society. I would argue, though, that the problem is that "classics", as in "seminal books" are not being written anymore. Btw, Socrates never wrote anything.
4) True, i dont see what's bad about foregoing memorization of facts that are not relevant to one's pursuit.
5) Getting through college is just the start for academics. Making a profound discovery is the goal and it's much more difficult than making a moderately successful business. [My theory is that the role of luck is much bigger in entrepreneurship than in academia]
Classics are only classic in retrospect. It's not easy to say exactly what will be remembered from the last 30 years, but I'll bet the answer isn't "nothing".