Weblogs and instant news

Early this morning, just before 1am, there was an earthquake in the UK. Only a 4.8, mild by global standards but big for the UK, in fact the biggest mainland quake for 10 years. I was awake and working at my computer. I felt the quake and wondered just what it was (I’ve never experienced a quake before). So I went to the web and looked at the BBC news site. Nothing. I went to the UK geological survey site, nothing. I couldn’t find confirmation anywhere that what I felt was a quake, let alone where it was centred, how big it was, etc.

I posted to my personal weblog what I felt shortly after the quake and then it struck me (no pun intended). My weblog post notified www.weblogs.com that my weblog had updated. How many other Brits had done the same? Maybe I could get confirmation from other bloggers that we had indeed just had a quake. Unfortunately I had absolutely no way of telling. Although weblogs.com could tell me who had updated I had no idea which weblogs were UK-based let alone who had posted something on the quake. In the end I went to bed knowing that it’d be several hours if not days before news items began to filter through Google.

Now wouldn’t it be cool if weblogs.com not only received notification of a weblog being updated but it also knew the URL of the weblogs syndicated RSS feed. A aggregator could allow anyone to search this wealth of information to instantly find items of interest. In my case, my updated weblog, and those of others blogging the quake, would immediately be available for searching. Another victory for weblogging, instant global news rather than the delayed news of even the fastest news services. earthquake at 1am, weblog post at 1:05am, available to the world via a search interface 1:05:01am! More importantly I could have in theory found some very local instant news to confirm what I had experienced had been experienced by other. So not only instant but local.

This morning Dave notes that Google has a new news service. I agree with Dave, so what? Google news may filter through quickly by search engine standards but far too slow by blogging standards. I want to be able to search a weblog the instant it’s updated. While Dave’s personal aggregator helps it only helps with feeds you’ve subscribed to. As it happens I don’t know who all the bloggers are in my part of the UK so I have no way of finding them. And besides, I probably won’t want to subscribe to their weblog on a permanent basis, I was just looking to see who else had posted about the great UK quake of ’02.

There’s only one piece missing from Dave’s article, the means to instantly search updated weblogs. I think www.weblogs.com could allow this and at a stroke be the most up to date news service in the world. Beat that Google.