I should note that I agree with the notion that there is some level of technology that we will lose and never again retrieve in same form, because large deposits of the materials and the ability to coordinate global sourcing will no longer exist. IOW, I believe that the appropriate technology movement is right-minded. I am fascinated by John Michael Greer's notion of doing something like reviving old patents. This is very much analogous with my passion for reviving the information found within pre or lost copyright books. I would be very much in favor of an ERE field trip to the vaults in Washington in search of inspiration for some projects.ZAFCorrection wrote:History is a lot stickier than people give it credit for. Up into the 20th century there were political leaders still calling themselves some variation on Caesar, going on two millennia since a particular family in the city of Rome used that name. The "everyone needs a bachelor's degree" meme will surely carry on in some form for at least 200 years.
OTOH, in the U.S. and Canada, there is a long history/tradition of universal education in situations of very low technology. As I noted elsewhere, my 78 year old multi-millionaire friend grew up on a farm that didn't even have a tractor and attended a high school with only 40 students. Since I have recently observed why Johnny does or doesn't know how to read in variety of situations, including one that is an early example of heavy influx of refugees, I am quite secure in my belief that the number one factor is whether Johnny has a parent who values education, can read, and possesses a large working vocabulary in any language.
Since the majority of the world's current cultures and religions now support "the book" (very much inclusive of modern nuns-on-the-bus Catholicism), and do not limit this level of transmission of knowledge to an elite class, I don't foresee anything resembling complete breakdown of this system within 200 years even under very dire circumstances. When I think of the Dark Ages, it's the lack of transmission of knowledge rather than the break-down of vast plumbing systems which seems most troubling, and I don't believe that the two systems are absolutely interdependent. Further evidence would be that there are places in the world today where plumbing is advanced and education of the non-elite is not.
There are also realms of recently acquired knowledge and even basic applied science that can be taught and advanced without great deal of necessary use of modern technology. For instance, I do not possess even the most basic knowledge and practical skills outlined in most chapters of "The Knowledge", but I am pretty sure that I could come up with a better plan for "agriculture" than this book's suggestion of reversion to Norfolk four-course system maybe making use of a simple plow formed by melting down the metal scavenged from a 21st century cloud-computing warehouse. My multi-millionaire poor farm boy's family actually used something very similar to this system in 1940s/50s Illinois. So, he grows and tills in cover crop of alfalfa on his large garden plot where he is also resolutely back-breeding his own strain of tomatoes to wild inedible form, because he is too frugal to even buy a fresh pack of seeds My point here being that something that many people might not know is that the hobby of gardening has advanced as much as the profession of farming in the last 200 years, and the technology needed to do 21st century gardening (as epitomized by Carol Deppe's book, "Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's and Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving" or Steve Solomon's work on the topic of soil mineral content, or Elaine Ingham's work on the topic of soil microbiology) is much less than even that needed by Claude Shannon, another early 20th Midwestern small town boy, when as a child he built his own telegraph system to communicate with his buddy who lived one farm down the lane, and could result in much better results than simple reversion to Norfolk system.