Current awareness for all

Building and cloudsHigh quality current awareness services alert professionals to recently published material of interest. It’s normally provided by in-house information specialists to scholars, lawyers, healthcare practitioners, business people and others. But in my view, everyone is entitled to quality low cost alerts from a trustworthy curator.

Collating information takes time

Information people use many methods to keep their clients and customers up to date. But you don’t need to know about the traditional paper methods as I certainly don’t use them now. Instead I use a selection of information from RSS feeds, email alerts, government and newspapers websites to bring everything together for you. Sifting through the information takes time.

You know how long it takes. For instance you regularly run through saved searches in your preferred databases. You can sift through numerous email alerts in in-boxes already brimming with unread items. You may have set up lists on Twitter. Or if you haven’t already, you could set up your own RSS feeds on to your preferred reader.

RSS and technology

RSS (really simple syndication) is not a new technology and has been around for some time. There has been a suggestion that it is declining in popularity. For instance certain sites have reduced or removed support for the service. Some previously popular readers such as Google Reader have been discontinued but they are widely supported elsewhere. Without getting too technical, certain browsers – Explorer – include RSS support, whilst Chrome doesn’t.

However I’ve found that many news publishers continue to produce efficient RSS feeds. This is the perfect solution for many current awareness service issues. I’ve found that Netvibes works well because it is flexible and easy to use. I gather the majority of my feeds in one place so I can identify relevant stories quickly and efficiently for you.

As clients ask for more specialised briefings, industry and specialised news can be added to my reader. As I consult with you and work on your current awareness, it will continue to improve and evolve. Maintenance and growth of the feed collection will improve my service to you. Of course, I take news from other media sources and collate them for you especially.

The problem of pay walls

There is one major problem that no amount of curation can solve. RSS feeds can’t enable access to subscription services. Online newspapers have been following the example of quality commentary publications by putting their content behind pay walls. For instance The Times and Financial Times. This is a downside of providing current awareness to individuals because subscription based news services can be expensive.

As an information professional, my primary aim is to find ways of getting current awareness to you. So let me start putting news together for you because I want to prove that this kind of service is not just for companies, universities, and other professional services.