Internet data protection

The overlapping series of interconnected networks that produced the World Wide Web and the Internet have become a huge platform for all possible types of information. To enumerate some, the Internet serves as a host for textual, audio, visual, or audio-visual information. The different sub-platforms within the world of Internet such as social media networks, encyclopaedic websites, blog sites, video and image hosts, and others have facilitated the way Internet users share different types of information.

The functionality of the Internet has traversed our everyday lives and has bridged the gap between geography and time. Every single day, we go online using our notebooks, tablets, or smartphones browsing the Internet. Most of us are active users of social media networks. In addition, almost everyone, if not all, Internet users have their own e-mail addresses that they use to communicate with others. From time to time, we upload photographs and videos to share with friends and family the most important life experiences we have had. The widespread use of the Internet has compelled us to be online almost every hour of the day.

But the Internet is not only akin to the ordinary, everyday user. The Internet also serves as the platform for some government services, development initiatives, employment and economy, and even business and finance. Various organizations, institutions, and agencies maintain their own website so that users are free to know more about them. Government officers use the Internet to provide their respective services to citizens using an online platform. In  addition to this, many websites specialize in online selling to generate profits.

With these various functions that the Internet offers to its users, we can only imagine how much information is stashed in numerous virtual locations in the World Wide Web. Whether this information is highly private to an individual or highly confidential, and should not be viewed but by a few authorized persons, the question that must be addressed is the lame, old Internet data security. How can an individual maintain his or her peace of mind and trust that the contents uploaded online are protected and will not be used for unintended purposes by third-party users?

How does the government protect confidential information when exposed may threaten nationalsecurity? Where do privacy and the right to free information meet? And how do we solve these issues?

In Europe, efforts are being exerted to push an Internet data protection law which seeks to limit the personal information being uploaded online by Internet users. This was featured in New York Times Online. During the initial meeting, big companies such as Facebook, Apple, Google, Amazon, and IBM participated in support for this law. The law advocates minimizing the data use of online companies such as Facebook and Google. For example, Web tracking and profiling methods would strictly be prohibited in order to prevent other companies from crafting advertisements that target specific sectors of Internet users. Unless individual users have consented to let such companies make use of their personal information, these companies would not be able to access any of the contents that the users upload. Data portability and a huge platform for data privacy regulator are also among the functions of this law.

Becoming aware of the potential threats of social media platforms and the Internet as an information sharing tool can help protect many Internet users. Although the Internet has opened big opportunities for a revolutionized communication process which links us with people anywhere on the globe, we should still be vigilant about the way we share information. In a world where information empowers development, we should also be on guard and watch over the use of our personal and private information.

Knut Harald Nylænde is a business, finance, and management professional who was born and raised in Norway. In addition to his successful Oslo-based investment firm, Knut is also interested in the economic landscape in Scandinavia and other parts of Europe. 

Internet activism

The Internet has given people powers and capabilities that otherwise wouldn’t be available to all. Moreover, it has given a fairly equal and unbiased platform and universe where voices of people from diverse backgrounds are heard. Those who were previously oppressed or marginalized in their societies are now able to stand up for their convictions and present a totally new view of the world that was earlier on hidden from the public. Indeed, activism – a concept that was formerly associated with violent opposition and dissent – has moved from its traditional connotation to one that is more open to all.

Online activism has always received mixed feedback from people. Some commend its ability to raise awareness of pressing social issues, while some remain sceptical of its legitimacy and efficiency, as is in the case of social entrepreneurship which I touched on in this article and in the so-called “philanthrocapitalism”.

Basically, these sceptics are saying that activism through the use of online platforms does not actually produce results and societal impacts like traditional protests and activist movements sometimes do. I have seen this phenomenon called slacktivism or armchair activism, a jab at how internet users can easily claim to be “activists” even operating from the comforts of their homes. However, this sense of convenience is also one of the most compelling reasons why more people are being encouraged to participate in online advocacy movements. It speaks of how even the smallest acts – like clicking a button or signing one’s name for a petition – can make an impact in the modern world of activism. www.change.org is an example of an influential website in the field of online activism. It describes itself as “the web’s leading platform for social change, empowering anyone, anywhere to start petitions that make a difference” (emphasis is mine). This tells a lot about the major charm and battle cry of online activism: that through the internet, basically anyone can be an activist or advocate and make a change, regardless of his or her age, gender, race, location, or circumstances.

The downside to this is that in addition to people who question the sincerity of online activists, the overwhelming democracy and openness of the internet have also caused fear in some traditional power centres, mainly in authoritarian countries. This has, in some instances, created attacks on internet freedom pushing for more stringent Internet regulations. Such attempts to limit internet freedom have so far failed.

However in my view, some regulations from governments are required to prevent unreasonable policies from private online companies. For example, it is not acceptable the way Google (which owns Blogspot) denies any interference even with anonymous libellous attacks on identified persons. Another example is the way Facebook, for a long time, blocked access for Norwegian police to the infamous terrorist Breivik’s Facebook account.

Actually, some American companies’ willingness to hide behind arcane US laws in these matters could be the biggest threat to Internet freedom as their extreme policies clearly are not sustainable. This can actually legitimize broader attacks on the Internet freedom in many countries.

A The Economist article titled Everything is connected talks about the supposed “new politics of the internet”. It cited several instances in different parts of the world wherein governments have attempted to pass legislations that would limit their citizens’ internet use. Specifically, it cited America’s anti-piracy SOPA, Europe’s ACTA, Brazil’s “Marco Civil da Internet”, and the Philippines’ cybercrime law as major victories against these restrictive attempts against the internet. Indeed, it seems as if the political struggle that has before existed between traditional activists and bodies of power and authority has now penetrated the modern-day beacon of freedom: the Internet – at least for now.

Knut Harald Nylænde is a Norwegian investor and businessman behind Moxie AS, a successful investments and venture capital firm based in Oslo. Knut holds degrees from two of Norway’s best business schools: the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) and the BI Norwegian Business School.

“Global warming” – Man-made or natural?

I have touched upon environmental issues from time to time. My readers will have noticed that even if I am deeply concerned about the seemingly drastic changes in nature’s “normal behaviour” in many parts of the world, I’m not convinced that man-made activities are the prime cause of all these environmental phenomena.

When man-made activities are at work you can more often than not clearly see the connections, like landslides caused by senseless removing of trees in exposed areas and hillsides, disruption of important interactions in fauna and flora through burning of vast forests, not to speak of the polluting effect and the increase in regional “global warming” caused by smoke and air pollution. Things like that.

What intrigues me the most in the current debate about global warming and climate change is the lack of concerns for the large number of people, mostly very poor people, living in areas which are potentially most exposed to future changes, be they man-made or caused by natural phenomena. It’s like we pursue a rather one-eyed approach by declaring a few specific gasses, especially the carbon dioxide (CO2), as the “enemy”. I quote Professor Plimer, Professor of Geology and Earth Sciences at the University of Adelaide, who once stated: “The very idea of taking a single trace gas in the atmosphere, accusing it and finding it guilty of total responsibility for climate change, is an absurdity”.

Professor Plimer and quite a number of his colleagues have pointed out that man-made carbon dioxide emissions throughout human history constitute less than 0.00022 percent of the total that is naturally emitted from the mantle of the earth during geological history, and warmer periods of the Earth’s history came around 800 years before rises in CO2 levels. For instance, after World War II, there was a huge surge in recorded CO2 emissions, but global temperatures fell for four decades after 1940. Throughout the Earth’s history, temperatures have often been warmer than now and CO2 levels have often been higher – more than ten times as high. The 0.7 degrees C increase in the average global temperature over the last hundred years is entirely consistent with well-established, long-term, natural climate trends, these scientists claim.

It does not make things better that the UN Climate Panel’s (IPCC) theory is driven by just 60 scientists and favourable reviewers, and not the 4 000 usually cited. The greater body of academics and scientists belong to the sceptics (not adversaries, mind you) to the theory and environmental models developed by IPCC, simply because they do not know enough about the causes of global warming and the subsequent changes in regions of the Earth.

IPCC had its credibility and position substantially weakened a few years back when leaked e-mails from British climate scientists – in a scandal known as “Climate-gate” – suggest that data and models have been manipulated to exaggerate global warming. In Norway a strong group of scientists (www.klimarealistene.com) are equally sceptic.

My point is, however, that scientists should occupy themselves more with the consequences for mankind in general and the most exposed people in particular by long-term changes on the surface of the Earth, and thereby the living conditions of millions; and by that produce the best possible basis for international, regional and national decision-makers for planning and resource allocation in order to face future challenges. Because challenges will occur, whatever and whoever are causing them.

Knut Harald Nylænde is the Chief Executive Officer of the Moxie Group, an Oslo-based group of investment firms. Knut keeps himself and his business circle updated with the latest business trends through his blog posts.

For business leaders: How to get the best talents?

It ought to go without saying that people are the most valuable assets to any company or organization. Develop a great workforce, and a great business will follow suit. It has always been a challenge, though, for most human resource executives and business leaders to find the most effective way of finding the right people to work for their company. How exactly do you find the best talents and hire the best workers for your business? Here are a few pieces of advice:

1. Use the internet. The world has never been more connected than it is right now. This is stated many times before, but unfortunately, a huge number of business leaders still choose not to recognise this opportunity. There is plenty of great talent in the internet just waiting to be discovered. While the good old apply-interview- hire cycle is proven to work well, it sometimes pays off better for the company to proactively search for possible candidates, and probably the best place to look is the internet.

2. Be more interactive. Probably the greatest flaw in the traditional and conventional hiring process is that it is too company-centred and one-dimensional. People send their resumes. The company screens the applications. The company interviews candidates a couple of times. After even more screening, the company selects the “best candidate”. The candidate is hired. In the process of making business more participative and dynamic, it’s high time that companies make the hiring more interactive for both parties, in order for the company and the candidates to get to know each other in a mutual and honest manner.

3. Embrace diversity. Openness to diversity (cultural or otherwise) is a characteristic every organization should develop and maintain. Gone are the days when specific jobs were regarded to be “fit” only for a certain group of people and not for others. Boundaries are, of course, still essential. It is highly important to set limits and make rules or guidelines to uphold the company’s standards; but sometimes, unreasonable compliance to those limits is what hinders the organization in discovering the right people.

4. Take risks. That said, it is also helpful and healthy to take risks every once in a while. Want to bring fresh and innovative ideas to your business? Hire a fresh graduate. Or, taking it to the extreme, hire a non-graduate. These people may not have the technical skills and qualifications you are looking for, but their experiences would certainly bring a world of difference to your workforce. Follow your instincts; they usually work for the best.

5. Be the best company. How do you find and acquire the best talent? It’s actually very simple: be the best company. Build up your organization in such a way that the best people in their respective industries would want to work for you. After all, finding the best people would not be so difficult if the best were those who came knocking on your door and asked for employment opportunities.

Knut Harald Nylænde is a Norwegian investor turned businessman who strongly advocates responsible entrepreneurship and innovative business development. In his official blog at KnutNylaende.com, Knut aims to share his expertise and draw from his experiences to guide and inspire business leaders all across the globe.

Finding value in video games

The usual disposition among parents and professionals towards video games is either indifference, or firm opposition. How many times have we heard the argument that video games promote violence among young people and therefore possibly are increasing the juvenile crime rate? The debate was recently even reignited by the alleged influence of video games in mass shootings and murders, following the admittance of Anders Behring Breivik, who committed the 2011 terrorist attack in Norway. He was playing video games while he was planning the killings.

Over recent years, however, the world of business and management (and probably the general public, as well) has been warming up to the existence of video games and has even found some value in it. Some has found business opportunities in the game design and production industry, which have been burgeoning along with the rise of social media platforms and web start-ups. In fact, a 2011 article from The Economist says that “with global sales of $56 billion in 2010, it is more than twice the size of the recorded-music industry”. What’s more interesting is that there is now a steadily rising trend in management and business called gamification. Forbes describes gamification as “applying game-design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging”. According to a highly engaging TED talk by game designer Jane McGonigal, games can be used to encourage and empower people to “save the world” – that is, solve real-life problems with the same zeal and enthusiasm that gamers have when playing video games. According to McGonigal, people are at their best selves when they’re playing games. She also enumerated four positive qualities that most gamers possess, namely: urgent optimism, tight social fabric, blissful productivity, and epic meaning. McGonigal also says that “gamers are super-empowered hopeful individuals… but they think that they are capable of saving only virtual worlds and not real worlds“. Moreover, she says that probably the biggest problem is that people often use games to escape real world problems, rather than face and solve them. To address this problem, many companies and organizations have been “gamifying” some of their business operations and campaigns in an effort to produce efficiency through the use of games and virtual  challenges.

One current example is World Vision Youth. In the youth community’s official website, community members and participants are given different “challenges” that revolve around empowering young people to actually take action on pressing development and social issues. Another popular “gamified” development campaign is the United Nations World Food Programme’s (WFP) Freerice campaign. According to its website, Freerice has two goals: to provide education to everyone for free, and to help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free. This is done through different activities, the primary one being an online quiz game, in which 10 grains of rice would be donated through the WFP for every correct answer. Several companies have also taken to using gamified projects and campaigns for workforce development.

Looking at it closely, gamification operates around principles that are not entirely new. Like design thinking, it cleverly uses human behaviour and emotion to solve real world problems. Basically, what gamification does is looking for the elements that drive gamers to excel in games to drive people to do the same in non-game contexts such as human resource management (particularly employee engagement) and development. That said, it may be safe to say that while gamification would, most probably, not last as a trend for very long, it would be helpful for managers and businessmen to remember the rules of engagement that gamification so well has demonstrated, and use it for challenging situations.

Knut Harald Nylænde is the CEO and founder of the Moxie Group, a cluster of investments firms mainly based in Oslo. Knut blogs about issues in business, culture, and politics in KnutNylaende.com (English) and KnutNylaende.no (Norwegian), and about national defence and security in Forsvarstema.blogspot.no.

Examining the rise of the social entrepreneur

Only a few years after graduation from college, Tammy Tibbetts made a life-changing trip to Liberia. Seeing the dire situation of women and children in the area and wanting to raise awareness about such issues, she organized the production of a PSA (Public Service Announcement) video that was posted on YouTube. The huge impact and positive feedback garnered by the video eventually led to the founding of She’s the First, a “not-for- profit that sponsors girls’ education in the developing world, helping them be the first in their families to graduate”. At 23, Tibbetts became the founder and head of her very own nonprofit organization and joined the horde of socially-innovative change makers who call themselves social entrepreneurs.

The past few years have formed a significant period in the field of business and development: the rise of social entrepreneurship. In the article Let’s hear those ideas, The Economist describes a social entrepreneur as “someone who develops an innovative answer to a social problem (for instance, a business model for tackling poverty)”. Today, most social entrepreneurs are characterized by innovative approaches as well as the inclination to use modern plaforms such as the internet in order to further social good.

In fact, “social entrepreneurship” has become a buzz word so widespread that these days it’s difficult to demarcate between social entrepreneurship, non-profit work and state-funded initiatives. One of the most interesting ways to view this phenomenon is to look at how it has opened up or “democratized” social development to reach out to a larger number of people.

Before the advent of social entrepreneurship, the burden of solving pressing issues such as poverty, inequality and oppression is primarily (if not solely) on governments and state-recognized agencies. However, more perspectives and viewpoints are now being heard and recognized. Most remarkable is perhaps to what extent the young echelon of the population has been increasingly involved in “socially innovative” efforts, as shown by Tammy Tibbett’s story.

However, there are also dangers coming with such a democratic approach to development. As I mentioned earlier, the convenience of the Internet has made it possible for practically anyone to be a social entrepreneur. This then raises the question of validity or legitimacy in the intention or quality of social enterprises. This is similar to the common problem with startup companies. By democratizing the marketplace for such enterprises, the quantity is increased at the expense of quality.

It may perhaps be too bold a claim to say that social entrepreneurship is just another passing trend. It is safe to say, however, that unless people stop venturing into social entrepreneurship for the wrong reasons, it may well be on its way to becoming hackneyed and worn out to the point of irrelevance. But while some are sceptical about the sincerity  of youngsters in their twenties, reeking of idealism, we cannot discount the fact – small as these efforts though may seem that they are still steps towards improvement of society.

Knut Harald Nylænde is the Founder and CEO of Moxie AS, a leading investments group in Norway. Knut blogs in KnutNylaende.com about issues in business and culture and in Forsvarstema.blogspot.com about defence and military.

English: A Scandinavian language?

In one of my previous posts (http://www.knutnylaende.com/knut-nylaende-on-the- changing-role-of-the-english- language-in- europe/ ), I examined how the English language has been regaining popularity and esteem in the Nordic region. In the same article, I also pointed at the fact that the Swedish population has been increasingly fond of the English language, especially in the post-World War II era. The same relates to the other Nordic countries.

Perhaps one of the reasons why people from Nordic and Scandinavian countries find it rather easy or even natural to learn the English language is that most languages of Norse origin share many similarities with English. A lot of common modern English words, as well as some grammatical features and nuances, are also rooted in these languages. In a rather extreme move, a linguist from the University of Oslo quite recently claimed, however, that contrary to traditional knowledge, English is in fact a Scandinavian language.

Jan Terje Faarlund, together with his colleague Joseph Emmonds, argues that English does not merely borrow words from Scandinavian languages, but is actually a form or derivative of Scandinavian in itself. Traditionally, the English language is believed to be of West Germanic origin, while Scandinavian is considered to be of North Germanic. However, Faarlund and Emmonds claim that “modern English is a direct descendant of the language of the Scandinavians who settled in the British Isles in the ninth and tenth centuries AD, before the

French-speaking Normans (also Norwegian inheritance) conquered the country in 1066”.

This extreme claim was immediately met and contradicted by representatives from the field of linguistics. According to Sally Thomason from the University of Michigan, Faarlund’s “extraordinary claim” lacks the “extraordinary evidence” required by it. One of Faarlund’s points that Thomason opposes is the principle that grammar cannot be borrowed and that it is expected to be retained in a language in spite of contact with and influence from other languages. Faarlund uses this viewpoint to theorize on the basis that ‘grammar-borrowing’ was eliminated, concluding that the best way to explain English’s close affinity with Scandinavian grammar is that it is a direct descendant of the latter. Thomason, however, says that Faarlund is mistaken in thinking so. She counters that “there are hundreds of convincing examples of structural diffusion – including phonological, morphological, syntactic, semantic, and discourse features – in contact situations all over the world”, and even gives an exampe in which Urdu, an Indic language used in Kupwar, India, borrowed several remarkable grammatical elements (such as word order features and an inclusive/exclusive ‘we’ distinction) from the Dravidian language Kannada and another Indic language. Thomason then asserts that this phenomenon may be similar to what happened between the

English and Scandinavian languages.

Furthermore, Robert Lane Greene of The Economist’s Johnson blog says that the mere fact that the English language possesses more West Germanic than North Germanic (i.e. Scandinavian) grammatical features raises doubt regarding Faarlund’s hypothesis. In the more recent post Do you make Scandinavian mistakes?, Greene elaborates on the major examples of “Scandinavian English” (namely: the split infinitive and the “stranded preposition” or preposition used at the end of a sentence) used by Faarlund to support his theory and concludes that while it is clear that Norse does have had immense influence on the English language, Faarlund’s rather extreme claims would take more research, examples, and evidence than what have been initially and so far provided.

Knut Nylænde founded and currently heads the Moxie Group. Having been educated in the fields of Economics, Accounting, and Law in the most reputable schools in Norway, Knut has become known as a specialist in management consulting and business development.

Development in “fragile” countries

It is no secret that there are countries that are highly developed and there are those which are not. However, this does not mean that it is impossible for countries seen as “fragile” to be able to bridge the gap separating them and their citizens from prosperity. In order to advance, these countries must first be able to battle their own demons. Those that are overrun with conflicts that may or may not be of a political nature, have a long road ahead of them with regard to development if they continue to act impotently on these unfortunate situations.

In an effort to help forward the process of development, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim devised a 5-point plan that can help fragile countries get back on their feet. The World Bank Group is made up of five major institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Developmental Association (IDA), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). The World Bank Group has been lending assitance to nations all over the globe by providing funds for education, water and sanitation projects, biodiversity projects, and advocacies such as those against the spread of HIV/AIDS.

According to Kim, people at the helm of underdeveloped countries must first be able to decipher the principal causes of fragility and conflict. Not two countries are alike; hence the situations that lead to fragility and conflict are unique to each and every society. This being the case, it is important for leaders to observe and analyse carefully what needs to be done in order to put an end to problems plaguing the country.

This must be followed up with assistance that is faster, more flexible, and timely. As I’ve mentioned earlier, delays in solving national problems will only prolong wounds that are hurting a country in pursuit of development. According to Kim, the World Bank Group is always open to those in need of financial aid, why money should not be considered an obstacle for those who are thinking of re-establishing and empowering health, education or other services.

The public should also be reassured that necessary actions are being made in order for them to have a secure future. Administrations must produce quick wins to solidify public trust, and creating jobs for the people is a step forward in treading the path to success. Employment opportunities will encourage citizens to stay in their homeland and thereby help strengthening the economy while at the same time providing for their families.

Kim closes his agenda by stating that it is in a coordinated development assistance that will pave the way for fragile countries to finally bloom. There must be a strong united force behind every move, every victory. If Kim’s  suggestions are valid indications, empowering fragile countries is not a walk in the park. But instead of getting daunted by the treacherous path ahead, state leaders must use their countries’ current situation as motivation to keep fighting still another day, and every day until a future is achieved in which their citizens may live the decent life they deserve.

Knut Harald Nylænde is a serial entrepreneur and investor based in Norway. Apart from his several business ventures, Knut is also interested in topics related to globalization, development, and culture. 

Delving deeper into the human brain

Reading minds: impossible? Who knows? We’re getting closer there. Something scientific has been keeping President Obama busy these days. According to US administration officials, there is an ongoing research initiative on inventing new technologies that can further study and understand the human brain.

According to one of the scientists under the research project, it is comparable to the Human Genome Project, which aims to study and map the total DNA structure. But the new initiative’s goal is to go further, and map the human brain in more detail and depth. The efforts of this initiative they will officially refer to as the Brain Research Through

Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies or Brain, and they will direct the efforts toward showing the interactions of our millions of brain cells. It is considered as one of the biggest scientific challenges that the Obama administration is facing. Of course, the initiative also serves the purpose of solving crucial scientific dilemmas such as developing tools that may aid neuroscientists in discovering the cure to diseases like Alzheimer’s and epilepsy. To make this possible, the administration should be more than willing to partner with private entities. However, three government agencies have already pledged to be involved in this project: the National Institutes of Health, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the National Science Foundation. The presence of these three agencies in the endeavour leads to dubbing them as the “dream team”. They will be spearheaded by Cori Bargmann of Rockefeller University, who will take charge of the specific plans, goals, time frame and budget.

Today, researchers are already able to attach wires in the brain of animals and human beings to record electrical activities of neurons. But as of now, they can only record hundreds at a time. This just ascertains the need to develop new technologies that would have the capability to record thousands – or even more – of neurons’ interactions.

With this objective, a huge amount of data including theoretical approaches, mathematical formulas, and developments on computer science will be gathered. The role of President Obama in this initiative is to review the ethical repercussions of these planned advances.

Although the research project has received positive reactions and overwhelming support, it is inevitable that some people and organizations will still be sceptical about its feasibility. According to Donald Stein, a neuroscientist at Emory University in Atlanta, the brain activities will not be mapped and imaged by the technologies that the involved scientists are proposing. However, supporters defend the initiative by saying that this can be the next 1950s’ Sputnik of the US. They believe that investing in this projecting might create the same great impact worldwide.

This initiative is surely a big leap in the 21 st century for US in the field of science and technology. However, the outcome of this undeniably ambitious endeavour is yet to be seen and defined. Of course, how this project will turn out relies on the people who move toward the mentioned goals. Whether the fruit will be a sweet or bitter one

depends on their will and passion to serve the purpose of the initiative. Right now, I cannot tell what is really on the minds of these scientists. But maybe in the near future, there will be relieved information that will allow me a better insight.

Knut Harald Nylænde is the founder and incumbent Chief Executive Officer of Moxie AS, a group of emerging investments firms in Oslo. He was educated in Norway’s best business schools and takes great interest in issues in culture, technology, and global business.

Reassessing the value of the college degree

A recent article in the New York Times took the world by storm. The story, titled It Takes a B.A. to Find a Job as a File Clerk, talks about how entry-level jobs such as paralegals and runners that previously only required a high school degree now require a college degree. Subsequently, better and higher paying jobs in decent companies now require either graduate degrees or years of experience, making it difficult (even impossible) for fresh university graduates to land decent-paying jobs relevant to their degrees after they graduate.

The article calls this phenomenon “degree inflation”, which is also sometimes referred to as “academic inflation” or “higher education inflation”, a term that is not unfamiliar to readers of my writing, as I have written about the topic before (http://my.telegraph.co.uk/knutnylaende/knutnyle/38/the-future- of-higher- education/ ).

With all these talks of an “education inflation” or “education bubble”, one question that has been floating around in economic, business, and social discussions is this: Are college degrees still relevant?

The obvious (yet largely unhelpful) answer is: it depends on the country. The NY Times piece mainly refers to the American education system and job market, and there is little material available that says something of value about the global situation. However, one aspect that seems to be shared by most countries in the world is the fact that college or university fees are generally increasing (except for some countries, like Norway wherein free education is provided in general). This mere fact, I think, is significant enough to spark concern regarding the state of global education. Another facet of this phenomenon brought forward by Businessweek is that women experience the hardest impact of this so-called degree inflation (http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-02- 20/why-degree- inflation-hits- women-workers-hardest ). The Businessweek article points out that most of the jobs identified by the NY Times piece having been impacted by the inflation (particularly administrative positions such as secretaries, receptionists, paralegals, and clerks), have traditionally been held by women.

While this phenomenon is also largely limited to the US context, it is no secret that the education and employment opportunities for women in other parts of the world are still far from ideal. So, although I would not go as far as suggesting that this “degree inflation” is happening in other countries than the US, I firmly believe that this is a good takeoff point for the academic and business communities to rethink current education and employment systems.

Knut Harald Nylænde is a businessman and investor hailing from Norway. Extensively trained in the fields of accounting, law, and economics, Knut now serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Moxie AS, an investments group which he also founded.