RSS Feeds Of Changes To Web Pages

Lorcan Dempsey picked up on the work of the JISC PoWR project in a blog post entitled The institutional record and web archiving. Lorcan described the presentation given at the first JISC PoWR workshop by Alison Wildish and Lizzie Richmond in which they described the changes to the University of Bath printed prospectus over the lifetime of the University of Bath.  Lorcan drew parallels between this print publication and the digital environment:

The University would always have kept the print manifestation; what now to do with the web manifestation? One of the interesting changes they note over this time is the ‘rise of the logo’, and tracing changes in how the institution presents itself over time is also interesting.

In a response to Lorcan’s post Tony Hirst referenced a blog post by Michael Nolan on the Edge Hill Web Services team blog in which Michael pointed out “one [example of interesting use of RSS] that caught my eye was the University of Warwick’s recent changes feed which allows you to subscribe to find out when the homepage changes. Better still, they have this for every page in their CMS.

An example of this can be seen for the Research page on the University of Warck Web site. Although not nornmally visibile to most end users who visit this page, there is a link to an RSS feed of recent changes to the page. Using tools such as the Greasemonkey RSS Panel (available for Firefox) you can view the changes, as shown below.

News feed of change on a page on the University of Warwick Web site 

In his comment on Lorcan’s blog Tony Hirst went on to suggest that “A change feed, like on a wiki, could be one way (maybe) of facilitating 1st, 2nd or 3rd party web page archiving?“. I think Tony might be right. And maybe we are seeing the University of Warwick pioneering this approach, as the feed of recent changes seems to be provided by their in-house Sitebuilder 2 software, “the University’s web publishing tool“.

Perhaps when institutions are next procuring a CMS system they should be asking if vendors provide RSS feeds of changes to pages.  

1 thought on “RSS Feeds Of Changes To Web Pages

  1. Richard M. Davis

    I wonder how long it’ll be before someone asks how we preserve these RSS feeds too? 🙂

    More seriously I think that RSS-driven automated capture sounds like a promising addition to the remote-harvesting armoury.

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