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I'd say that physical proximity is indeed very useful, if only because the effective bandwidth of communication is so much greater than for electronic approaches. The non-sequitur is surely thinking that you need an institution (or even more bizarre, an institution like a current university) to enable that proximity. We do, however, need more common, effective and popular ways of electronically facilitating meeting up, and (similarly) getting to know like-minded people with similar intentions.


Noam may have not been able to predict the rise of tools that facilitate this "proximity" over the Internet. However, possibly more importantly, even though such "proximity" may be important for quality in the learning process, many people underestimate the importance of convenience to people. If a course is of high quality but not convenient, they often cannot attend. If the other way around, they can live with it (particularly if the price is right).

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