If the subscription model of internet funding doesn’t work, I can’t see how truly authoritative educational material on the web has a future. Unless, of course, it’s assembled by a state-funded or charitable institution.
I was particularly interested in his comment about the failure of universities of pursue this kind of innovation.
From the first day I started making WW2History.com I was curious as to why no university had created something similar to this before me, especially since all the academics I asked to contribute to the site could see the value of the work instantly. Partly it’s because of money — universities can scarcely expand into new areas when they face cuts elsewhere. But, according to one distinguished academic I talked to, there’s also another reason. “We could never do this,” he said. “It isn’t just because we don’t have the media expertise or the cash, it’s because we would set up a committee to oversee production and no one would ever agree on anything.”
Does this mean that innovation by committee can never work, or merely that universities typically lack the capacity to operate the kind of collective intelligence that would make it work?