I’m very excited about the launch of Inside Higher Ed, a new web-based publication with “news, opinion and career advice and services for all of higher education.” This is, of course, not entirely dissimilar from what the Chronicle of Higher Education has been offering for many years, but there are some very important differences. The Chronicle has some great writers, but it’s primarily a print-based publication, and it shows. Most of the interesting web content is only available to subscribers. This is highly frustrating for bloggers, who don’t, as a rule, like to link to articles that most of their readers can’t access. Individuals within the Chronicle are pretty understanding about this, but there is only so much that they can do. IHE is beginning from a very different model, one which I think is much better designed to capitalize on the explosion of web-based discussion over the last three years. All their content is going to be free, which means that bloggers can link to their stories without a second thought. Furthermore, they’re deliberately seeking to integrate IHE into the debates that are happening among blogs, highlighting and picking up on the more interesting discussions. They’ll also have a jobs service (which will be the bread-and-butter of the website), and a weekly email digest.
In short, I reckon that IHE is going to be an extremely valuable resource for bloggers and non-blogging academics. It will provide the kinds of reporting and detailed analysis that bloggers themselves aren’t much good at. It’s worth noting that the people behind IHE include Scott Jaschik, who was editor of the Chronicle during its glory days, Doug Lederman, who has done some superb academic reporting and editing at the Chronicle and elsewhere, and Scott McLemee, who will be their ‘Essayist-at-Large.’ Scott McL has his first column up today, where he describes the blogosphere as
that agonistic realm routinely combining the best qualities of the academic seminar with the worst traits of talk radio
With any luck, IHE will mean less talk radio, and more grounded discussion. As I’ve said, I’m excited.