I conjecture that, everything else being equal, the level of your education is inversely correlated with innovation.
- At first, a new idea appears interesting, but it carries no prestige. And there are few financial incentives. Think homebrew computers before Apple. Or blogging in 2003. The people who first join are sociopaths (as per the Gervais principle) who often lack formal education. They recognize what this new idea might do. Yet they are unconcerned by their place in society. They may not even have a resume.
- Once an idea picks up steam, incentives become more apparent. The community then expands to include people who are slightly more conformist. You will start to see more college degrees. Companies are built. Jobs are created. Think blogging in 2005, or Apple releasing its first personal computer.
- After some time, it has become obvious that the idea is solid. Think Apple a few months after the Apple II was launched. Or blogging in 2010. People who value greatly prestige finally join up. You start to see prestigious degrees. There are now established practices and some level of expected conformity.
If my conjecture is at least partly true, then you can assess trends by the status of the participants. When you see new trends, such as homebrew 3D printers or open source electronics, how many MIT degrees do you see? Conversely, by the time the prestigious degrees are flocking in, maybe the real innovation is elsewhere?
Fun fact: In 2007, Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan, and Goldman Sachs were among the top 10 employers of MIT graduates. (Source)
Acknowledgement: I was inspired to write this post by P. Bannister.