Silence of THE Universities

When I wrote about the relaunched Times Higher last week, I never imagined we’d be on the cover of the next issue, albeit in butterfly form:


Images like this always remind me of ‘the Silence of the Lambs’, not because of Hannibal Lecter’s considerable academic achievements (he could have written an interesting ‘Don’s Diary’ for the THES two or three relaunches ago), but because of the iconic image from the movie poster:


Leaving aside the inherent creepiness of static lepidoptera, it is interesting that Edge Hill forms part of a subset of institutions chosen to represent the diversity of universities.

Back to the publication itself, barely emerged from its own chrysalis, I’m still not sure what to call it when referring to it out loud. Saying ‘The Times Higher Education Supplement’ always sounded somewhat portentous, like referring to ‘The Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Seven’. ‘The Higher’ was sayable, as was ‘the THES’ (rhymes with Tess) or ‘the tee aitch ee ess’. Somehow I can’t imagine asking in the office if anyone’s see the ‘tee aitch ee’, and if I said ‘the THE’ there would be the danger that Chris would hand me a CD.


The Times Higher Education Supplement has a spiffy new look:


and has become a magazine. It has many plus points, including sharper, colour photography and clear typography and layout. However I think something has been lost in the translation – browsability. One of the nice things about traditional newspaper layouts is the way one’s eye roams the pages, finding stories by serendipity. In the new mag-like Higher (which surely won’t be referred to as ‘the’) most stories fill whole pages or spreads, so that one either reads a story or moves on. It doesn’t invite one to linger or follow links (existent or not) between the various articles and images.

There’s even an index on the back cover, enabling one to zero in on a mention of a particular institution without wasting eye-power on anything else along the way… that will save a few nanoseconds of the working day.

A business-like read.

(PS: I am not Jamie Targett.)