“Uber [or Airbnb] for Private Tutors”—I’d sign up

Tyler Cowen suggests “Uber for Private Tutors,” which sounds like a great idea, but I’m not sure Uber is the right comparison group. Rather, the better comparison is to Airbnb: I’d want to be the penthouse of tutors, so to speak, and charge appropriate superstar fees. The best tutors are probably worth orders of magnitude more than average tutors.

Uber by contrast dictates fees to drivers, which drivers can take or leave. I’d rather see the opportunity for markets to decide how much I’m worth. Rides are also probably more similar to each other than tutors are to each other, so Airbnb is the comparison choice I prefer. One could also begin to imagine a combination of MOOCs, things like Coursera, tutor matching, and the like nibbling away at the current school experience.

I have the academic credentials and experience necessary to sign up for Airbnb for private tutors, and I live in New York City, which probably has a lot of pent-up demand for tutors-on-demand. I’m working as an adjunct professor at Marymount Manhattan College, and while I enjoy and appreciate the work it isn’t hard for me to imagine a better-paid situation arising. Uber for private tutors could supplement the large, existing adjunct workforce or even supplant some people who are currently adjuncting.

That being said it isn’t clear to me that people hiring tutors would care about credentials so much as they’d care about personality, though maybe both are important.

Links: Manhattan, drugs and sex workers, the education myth, campus madness, mega construction, and more!

* The myth of the Manhattan construction boom.

* “America’s Newest War: As the war on drugs loses its luster, legislators are intent to make the same mistakes with sex workers.”

* The Education Myth.

* “All About Eve—and Then Some,” hilarious throughout, including: “Even fun, though, can get to be a drag if you have too much of it.” She seems to have understood men, including brainiacs, and to have had a sense of humor: “Dear Joseph Heller, I am a stacked eighteen-year-old blonde on Sunset Boulevard. I am also a writer. Eve Babitz.”

* Inside the passionate “girl-topia” of BookCon: Where authors are rock stars and geek-chic girls rule.” Maybe.

* “Things I Learned about Credit Bureaus This Week.” This is the sort of thing that would appear in major newspapers, if we had any real journalists left.

* The Campus Crusaders,” and not in a good way; much of the academic study of the humanities has been distorted and disfigured by an overweening obsession with the topics discussed.

* In Tyler Cowen’s words, “Blatant discrimination against Asians, from academia at that, remains an under-reported story.” Highly marketed schools may be less racist than they once were but they’re still racist along different axes.

* “Global aviation is the fastest-growing cause of climate change. And the EPA might let it off the hook.” Facts not much discussed, apparently because the environmentally noisy class is also the travel-and-leisure class.

* Crossrail: Tunneling beneath London. I have a jones for giant projects.

* Why has Apple spawned so few startups?

* “You hear the playback, and it seems so long ago…” Jeff Sypeck on eight years of Quid Plura. Like him I feel this:

When Facebook and Twitter prompted an exodus that made the blogosphere feel as empty as Iceland’s interior, I stuck with it. The culture craves pithier social media—photo memes, five-second movies—but I like long-form writing, even if some days I feel like a ham radio operator or a shut-in dialing into the Internet with a screeching modem and a Commodore 64.

I now have a Twitter feed, which functions mostly as a glorified RSS feed, but I don’t participate much in Twitter or Facebook. They’re too short form to be interesting to me, most of the time.

* 22 years after Verizon fiber promise, millions have only DSL or wireless.

Life: The novel edition

“It would seem that fiction writing is trying to satisfy two needs that are at loggerheads: to tell and not tell.”

—Tim Parks, Where I’m Reading From; out of context the quote seems almost nonsensical, but in context it is brilliant. The book itself is brilliant too, and I may write a longer post covering it, if I can get past how much I have to say about it.

Art is filled with weird paradoxes and contradictions, which is one reason it’s so hard to talk meaningfully about it.

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