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College news in 'three clicks or less'

A web site under development promises to deliver a news feed on 200 of the world's top colleges in three clicks or less.

The site is called Aca*medes, a contraction of the words academe and the mathematician Archimedes. The idea is quick access to news on selective colleges.

Go to the site. Click. Pick a drop-down menu. Click. Choose from a list of top public or private universities or liberal arts schools, chosen based on collegiate rankings. Click. Choose any of three news sources: official campus news, the independent campus newspaper, or an aggregation of stories from the mainstream media. Click.

Three clicks. Or four.

Grantland Rice, a former Harvard administrator who oversees the project, explained it in an e-mail.

"Aca•medes started as a project to help my firm keep on top of academe and to offer a better briefing tool for higher ed leaders. Both the access to and proliferation of information has created great opportunities and challenges. On the one hand it is now easy to learn what a given president or provost is up to on any campus around the world. On the other it is impossible to make meaningful connections between all that information when it is buried in the websites and RSS feeds of a thousand news outlets. It's the equivalent of a graduate student entering Widener Library without a reading list.

"Ultimately we're interested in discovering ways to better connect faculty in the "virtual colleges" so it is easier, say, for faculty and researchers to see what is happening in fields at other institutions. There's no good interface for that right now, other than inefficient Googling around. My experience is that faculty often don't know the breadth of what's happening around the world other than what they learn through their own networks, conferences, etc."

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By Daniel de Vise  |  March 15, 2010; 6:25 PM ET
Categories:  Liberal Arts , Online , Privates , Publics , Rankings , Technology  | Tags: rankings, technology  
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