Informant is a nifty service from Dartmouth University. It keeps
you informed, via email, of new sites that particularly relate to
When you visit their site,
you're asked to choose a user name and password. Once done with
that, you're teleported to another form where you type in keywords
and site addresses (URLs). The site administrators inform you that
they will perform periodic searches through the search engine of
your choice and email you when pages corresponding to those keywords
or Urls have been updated or added.
A relatively remarkable
Web sites come and go at
a dizzying pace. We've found it virtually impossible to keep up
with all the changes. Now, we're able to automate part of our search.
For instance, of course
we're interested in employment and recruiting. So one set of our
keywords included those terms. Of 4 search engines to choose from
to do our dirty work, we chose Lycos, primarily because it seems to be more difficult
to get a site added there than in any other of the options.
The day after we filled
out and submitted the form, we received an email informing us that
a search indeed had been conducted and we could now revisit the
site, type in our user name and password, and learn of the results.
With gleeful abandon we
After logging in, we were
faced with a table categorizing 25 pages in order of how closely
they matched our keywords. Of the 25 URLs provided, one was repeated
six times and another was repeated 3 times. This is not the fault
of the Informant,
though. It has a lot more to do with how web administrators give
the same page several addresses in attempts to appear more frequently
in the search engines.
Nonetheless, we went and
visited the pages offered and did indeed find some new stuff.
The service is not perfect,
of course. If pages are unreachable, and some are, the Informant
still includes their URL. Then, too, if you do not visit the site
to view the collected addresses, the Informant will continue to report same
sites as new in subsequent email messages. And, our search can only
be conducted via one search engine. We'd be happier if a meta-search
engine could be used.
is, though, a time saving device. With the explosion of information
on the Web, we'll take anything that saves us even a few minutes.