I wanted to highlight an online tool that I have found useful in my research. Page monitoring services. I use ChangeDetection, but several similar services exists. The basic idea is that you pick a page on the Internet, and whenever the text of the page is modified you get an email letting you know. This works for any page regardless of if it has an RSS feed.
This is useful, because instead of revisiting a page every day, or every week to see if new information has been added, this service does it for you.
Many government departments have a page that lists all their public reports, and I use this to monitor those pages. When a new report is posted I will find out about it right away.
For example I am monitoring the page for SIRC reviews, SIRC is the review body for CSIS, when their secret or top secret reports are declassified and made available to the public they get listed online. If any of them seem of interest to me, I just need to fire off an Access-to-Information request with SIRC and I will get sent a copy.
With ChangeDetection, you can quickly begin monitoring any pages you want, the first time you use it you will be prompted to create a password, and after that adding new page only takes a few seconds.
For each monitored page you can change how often you receive email on changes, and have a bunch of options on when exactly you get emails sent to you.
When I receive an email I can link to the page it self, or go to a page that highlights the changes that have been made.
ChangeDecection is free, and I don’t see anyway that it is being monitored, but it appears to be run another site that makes money selling services to webmasters, freefind.com.
There are other page monitoring services out there. Google Reader used to do this, but the service was discontinued. Richard McEachin at The Confidential Resource wrote a blog post that list some other tools that work.
I have found changedetection.com does everything I need, so I wouldn’t be able to compare it to these other tools. But from this blog post I get the sense that other services send the changes to you inbox, where as with ChangeDetection you have to click on a couple links to see the changes.
Every now and then I get an email letting me know a page has changed, and on occasion the changes I find make me really happy I know about this service.