Knowledge gambles: Academic casinos and paradigmatic roulettes
Works of art and educational products are being marketed. In order to reach the upper segments of consumers they have to be packaged and advertised. Gentrifying cultural consumption of art can easily be compared to the upgraded and commercialized forms of the individualized mass education. Once upon a time the European social democrats opened up the "gardens of artistic treasures" and "gardens of educational advancement" to the masses. Malraux dreamed of an imaginary museum belonging to everybody. Popular access, however, changed the museum and the university more than expected. «The map of the museum had to be remade, its calendar adjusted to the latest beginning» (Lyotard, 1999: 305). Masses came, but failed to become passive consumers of artistic values prescribed by cultural elites. Today's musea are catering to the broader public and entering the emergent networks of virtual exhibition spaces, but artistic values are as prone to crises as shares on a stock exchange. Likewise, in the last quarter of the century, Trojan horses of the expanding forms of university-level education and of the MBA programs entered the turreted walls of the universities. Macdonaldization and lasvegasification of higher education followed. Pragmatic checklists and multiple choice tests replaced methodological apprenticeship and individual research assignments. Open and flying universities, virtual universities and faculties multiply and inhabit the educational earth. The roulette tables have also been turned in the academic casinos of universities, associations, conferences, networks, publications and the like: paradigms started winning and losing without metaphysical guarantees and without methodological credit cards. The metaphor of knowledge gambles appears to offer much better insights into the daily processes within complex, knowledge-intensive casinos (where governments and companies bet on future outcomes) than the metaphor of organizational learning, which coloured the vocabulary of organizational sciences at the turn of the century.