Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cool New Website

A friend of mine from college works for a cool new website, Unigo, which recently got some excellent press from the NYTimes Magazine. I have to admit that though I'd heard something about the site before the article, I didn't really get it until I read the article and saw the site live. It's one of those brilliant ideas that you know is truly smart because you wonder why no-one's done it until now. It's a Princeton Review or Insider's Guide type college guide book, but online. And current and past students from the colleges can submit videos, photos, and reviews. Editors (like my friend) then compile the reviews into a shorter summary, but all the original info is still around. It's the perfect use of the overwhelming-user-generated-content web.

Now I'm hoping that the next thing on their list is a branch of the site for grad school. Grad school choice is still confounding and precisely the type of hugely broad area where user-generated content is perfect. True, there's a lot of variety in a grad school program based on your area and advisor, but everyone takes the same core courses and lives with the same administration. For Maryland I'd comment that two of the best things about the department's course decisions are that our qualifying exams are wrapped into our course requirements and that many courses have large original research projects as requirements. One of the things that doesn't work as well is our proposal system which wraps together an oral exam on a reading list and an hour talk on your research project - I'd much prefer they were separated so I could focus solely on each.

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