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Bubble 2.0? Schmubble 2.0! Stocks May Fall, but Technology Is Not Going Away!

The technology pundits are wringing their hands — and watching their wallets! The sky is going to fall, again; the sky is going to fall, again!!! The technology pundits are reading the virtual tea leaves and are all a flutter: 2014 is just like 2000! We are in a bubble. Bubble 2.0 — just like Bubble 1.0 in 1999-2000.

For example, one pundit cites various statistics to back up his prediction:

  • The stock market is at a peak, which is exactly what you'd expect in a zero-interest environment.
  • In the tech sector specifically, there has been a recent run-up in deal prices.
  • Companies with broken business models are highly valued.
  • Companies without meaningful revenue are highly valued.
  • Companies with no revenue at all are highly valued.
  • Serious investors are beginning to suspect a tech bubble has formed, and that a crash is coming.

And, just to add some spice, the cover of Wired Magazine this month has a white and black skull on a totally black background, the skull is oh so cleverly crafted with an @ at the center. The story that goes with this horrific image? “How the U.S. Almost Killed the Internet — and Why It Still Could.” OMG OMG OMG. Chicken Little, Chicken Little… oh woe, OH WOE.


Now there is another set of pundits, more rational by half (at least), who are saying:

“With high broadband penetration, the Web has become a fully realized consumer medium where pages load in a flash and video plays without stuttering. With those pipes now built, we are in a time very similar to the early 1980s, when big cities were finally wired for cable. What followed was an explosion of new channels, many of which have become big businesses today.”


Interesting analogy — interesting opportunity. In 2000 the United States did NOT have that type of networking infrastructure. Infrastructure is the harbinger of change; with new infrastructure comes new opportunities.

I don’t remember what it was like before the American highway system was built. But Albert Gore Sr., who sponsored the Federal Highway Act of 1956, created an infrastructure that made national commerce possible.

(Interesting aside: So, when Albert Gore Jr. said he invented the internet, while he was being a bit expansive, he was the main sponsor of the “High-Performance Computing and Communications Act of 1991, which created the National Information Infrastructure (NII), also known as the Information Superhighway.” Father builds highways for atoms; son builds highways for bits. Nice symmetry.)

The new wired infrastructure to the home — with wireless in the home — is changing the cornerstone of the American home: TV watching. For example, Netflix, which is streaming movies, serials, news shows, etc., “accounts for 32.25 percent of all nightly downstream traffic” on the Internet! Indeed, people watch Netflix streams on “more than 1,000 different devices” — not just on TV!  And with 4G becoming increasingly ubiquitous, wireless outside the home is common place.

And smartphones have matured to the point where the market in the developed nations, e.g., United States, is saturated: 65 percent of all mobile subscribers own smartphones (as of Q3, 2013).

(And check out this factoid: “Smartphone ownership also continued to grow among students and recent grads, as 70 percent of teens (aged 13-17) and 79 percent of young adults (aged 18-24) now own smartphones.”  How you going to keep them down on the farm … once they have a smartphone in their hands? )

The Pew Internet and America Life Project claims that: “80 percent of Americans have either a broadband connection, a smartphone or both.”

So, the three key pieces of consumer technology (wired Internet, wireless Internet and smartphones) that weren’t in place in 2000 and are in place in 2014.  IF there is a Bubble 2.0, it is NOT like Bubble 1.0 in 2000. Indeed, technology is more entrenched now than it has ever been it and continues to engender transformation in industry upon industry.

What are the implications of this change in national technological  infrastructure from 2000 to 2014 for educators in general and K-12 in particular?

  • Well, in 2000 there were some who thought that technology was a flash in the pan and it would go away. Bubble 1.0 was ostensibly proof that technology was a flash in the pan.
  • But here we are in 2014, and Bubble 2.0 notwithstanding, technology is NOT a flash in the pan; the technology in 2014 is not like the technology 2000; technology is NOT going away.
  • And, like the music industry, the retail industry, the journalism industry, the automobile industry, the grocery industry, the you-name-it industry that is undergoing transformation(s) engendered by technology, K-12 is and will increasingly so be transformed by that very same technology.  

Last week’s blog about the transformation at Nan Chiau Primary School, catalyzed by the students using smartphones 1:1, 24/7, is an example of the kinds of transformations that are taking place — and going to take place with even more regularity!

About the Authors

Cathie Norris is a Regents Professor and Chair in the Department of Learning Technologies, School of Information at the University of North Texas. Visit her site at

Elliot Soloway is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in the Department of CSE, College of Engineering, at the University of Michigan. Visit his site at

Find more from Elliot Soloway and Cathie Norris at their Reinventing Curriculum blog at