In the days where paper was king there was a good reason why lots of different publications covered the same stories: they had to serve their readers, and there was a good chance that they did not have the opportunity to read more than a few magazines a month.
With the web, that has changed. People don’t copiously read a single magazine site, they surf the net. Engineers are not tied to a single technical area: most likely they are interested in many. But the practice that was useful in the old days—that of the same story duplicated in many publications—has continued, and causes information overload now.
What we, as technologists, engineers, programmers and scientists want is to be kept well informed on lots of subjects without having to wade through 1000 RSS articles per day: most of which are consumer trivia, self-serving press releases, duplicates, share-price tracking, and other things that just waste our time.
Through UCL ENGins, we see our contribution as being to wade through those 1000 articles for you and pull out the ones that genuinely seem to be interesting. Then we make them easy to navigate or search through. On top of that, we aim to fill gaps left by the existing media with our own coverage.
One of the things that makes us different from many aggregation sites is that we do this in a completely honest way. We don’t pretend the stories are ours: we don’t pull them into our site. Instead, we send you to the source that brought the story to us.
Another thing that makes us different is that our site is not completely cluttered up with ads. Apart from the banner ad at the top of the page, we have no plans to do any kind of display advertising at all. Our goal is to make money only when it’s a win-win-win situation: a win for the reader, a win for the affiliate, and a win for us. That means that we don’t mind earning money if it’s from something that the reader will find useful anyway (like a jobs listing), but we do mind earning money from flashing boxes that offend, annoy, and generally take up valuable space that could be filled with news.
We hope that you think this is a job worth doing and will support us either by actively contributing your expertise to the service—even if that simply means telling us what you think does and doesn’t work on the site—and/or by subscribing to our premium RSS feeds and getting your own profile page.
Dr Sunny Bains