Google Reader Lets You Monitor Page Changes Without RSS

It’s not as nifty as a cell phone, or as amazing as street views of businesses all over the world, but to me it is big news — really big news. Google announced yesterday
that Google Reader can now be used to monitor pages for Web changes — whether they have RSS feeds or not.

Ten years after I started using RSS, it’s pretty prevalent but not universal. Google’s announcement means it’s going to be a lot easier to follow those random pages that don’t have RSS feeds for update information.

Are you already using the Google Reader for RSS feeds? Adding non-RSS content is easy. Just click on the “Add a Subscription” button and you’ll get a form into which you can paste an RSS feed URL or a regular HTML page URL. Google will ask you to confirm that you would like to create a feed to monitor based on that page.

Now, HTML pages are not RSS feeds. Their information is harder to isolate and delineate. So while the idea is that Google is going to “provide short snippets of page changes,” it’s not clear what those snippets are going to look like. Is going going to get hung up on a date change or counter change? (This has been a problem in the past with software like WebSite Watcher.) Are the snippets going to be meaningful?

I’ve added some pages to Google Reader and will revisit them in a week or so to see what kind of snippets I’m getting as results.

About Tara Calishain

Covering the world of search engines, databases, and other online information collections since 1996.

Posted on January 26, 2010, in News and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off.

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