Returning to Blogging: 6 Thoughts

My father passed away over MLK weekend. He was a great father and for reasons I can’t quite articulate his death reduced my interest in writing, save for honoring him with a eulogy.

But this blog has been a source of immense learning for me, and it’s not something I want to give up on, so onwards.

While I haven’t been writing, here’s things that have been on mind but I haven’t yet had time to research or flesh out:

I. When does campaign money really matter? 

I’m sure there’s a vast literature on this, but I’ve been struck by how in large scale races money doesn’t always matter (Jeb) and in small scale races money doesn’t always matter (because people personally know the candidates). So perhaps money matters the most in midsize races where people don’t know the candidates *and* major media outlets don’t provide a lot of coverage; i.e., state legislative races.

II. Could you offer college for free and make money through non-academic purchases?

In some free iPhone games, you can purchase add-ons that help you win. This would be unfair in academic setting. In other free games, you can purchase things that give you status but don’t help you win (a nice avatar); this appeals to gamers sense of fairness. Could you build a university where the core product was free and money was made through non academic add-ons (gym, travel abroad, sports, merchandise, etc)?

III. What other Democrats for Education Reform orgs do we need?

I think parties often change through internal pressure.

So how about: Republicans for Solar / EITC / Evolution / etc?

How about: Democrats for GMOs / Free Trade / etc?

The power of Democrats for Education Reform is that it built a well funded operational infrastructure within the party elite. Could this be replicated for other issues in each party?

IV. Should we run a RTC on ending child poverty in USA

I’ve been thinking about this a lot and may try to put together a strategy and model out costs. I think the ROI would be high in terms of what we’d learn.

V. Is the ed-tech VC market missing anything?

Are there sectors of the market that will never provide 10X return but need to be invested in order to achieve maturity in important issues? What is role of philanthropy here?

VI. Alignment vs. Entrepreneurship 

Collective action efforts are about aligning actors. Entrepreneurship is about creating and scaling new actors.

The first feels better but my bet is that the latter is more important.

I worry that philanthropy will gravitate toward alignment and over fund it. Alignment can be useful, but it’s important to understand its limits (squeezing the most out of what we have) and its implicit assumptions (things aren’t working because of a lack of coordination).

1 thought on “Returning to Blogging: 6 Thoughts

  1. Hugh Guill

    Very sorry to hear about your Dad, Neerav. Happy you are back online now…your insights and work mean a lot to me in my educational entrepreneurship ventures.


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