Get Things Done: Related Work... Or Why Don't Tech Sites Use Modern Technology?

As I perfect my PhD workflow I’m learning a lot. I’ve gotten much more efficient at finding related work and target conferences; I’ve improved my writing and organizational skills; I’ve found a number of tools that make my life easier (for example I use Google Docs to track references and write drafts so that I can view them from any Internet-connected computer). However, now I’m at the point where I know my topic and I need to stay current on the research. From what I can tell, most academics do this by reading the program from conferences related to their work. That’s fine as a backup, but there’s got to be an easier way! Why not automate the delivery of related articles or entire conference proceedings?

As a dedicated RSS fan (RSS feeds are a great way to keep up with the latest news!) I would love to subscribe to my 10 conferences and have them publish to my reader as soon as the proceedings are available. However, IEEE and ACM do not publish papers or articles via RSS! I understand conferences are big money makers so you may want to make people pay for the content, but I get emails and magazines from IEEE that I could receive instead as an RSS feed. Groups that represent the height of technological research are 10 years behind the times!

Thanks to blogs, twitter, facebook, and the raft of immediate media, everyone is a publisher. IEEE and ACM seem to be following the print newspaper style which is not 1) economically feasible or 2) good for spreading your brand. Don’t try to horde content in hopes of making more money. I get more interesting research from Wired than I do from IEEE because IEEE withholds the work. (That’s hyperbole of course—my job is to cruise for papers and UT has an amazing infrastructure in place for doing so—however, Wired does make it much easier to find interesting technology).

Until I find another way, I plan on setting up Google alerts (sent to my RSS reader) to notify me of conference proceedings and/or make related work searches into RSS feeds (i.e. get a notification when a new rolling alarm clock is discussed). Does anyone else see the irony in all this? Has anyone found an easier way to stay up to date with research in your area?