Internet radar

The radar is a handy and necessary tool in the aviation business. A long time ago, when there was not much trafic, there was no need for a radar; for the people in the control towers it was enough to have visual contact with the airplane the moment it arrived. But as trafic increased more sophisticated systems were needed. Nowadays all incoming and outgoing planes appear on the radar screens, unless they fly too low.

Exactly the same is happening on the internet. Ten years ago, it was easy enough to surf the few interesting sites on a weekly basis. But as the internet grew and more sites started to publish more material, this became a kludge. I am interested in the content of about 100 sites, which I try to read on a regulary basis. Some of these sites publish daily news, some of them are only updated once a month. Four years ago I had my bookmarks ordered by update frequency: I had a folder called ‘daily’ which contained sites I tried to visit on daily basis, etc. But as the number of sites increased, it became undoable to keep on visiting all those sites.

So I started using the internet equivalent of the radar: feed readers. Most sites publish their content in several formats. Besides the usual HTML pages, many sites also publish their news in a short format as RSS or Atom. My feed reader fetches those so-called feeds every X minutes, and notifies me when a site has been updated. This saves me a lot of time! But there are still many sites flying under the radar. Sites that do not provide feeds, sites which I still have to visit manually, many times only to find out that nothing has changed. I found out that I am visiting these sites less and less. They are about to dissapear from my screen, I simply do not have the time to keep on visiting them.

And I am not the only one. Many people read the texts of this site through a feed reader, and even more use my feeds to see whether I updated my site. So webmasters: don’t fly under the radar, but give your readers the option to use feed readers!

Jeroen Sangers @jeroensangers