Sunday, October 02, 2005

Cutting Through the Incessant Barking

Heather Green's recent Blogspotting post featured this cartoon that is making the rounds online. With PubSub and Technorati tracking over 16 million blogs there certainly is a lot of pointless, incessant barking going on out there.

How to cut through the noise and find the good stuff?

The best way I've found is to use a prospective search service such as the one provided by PubSub. With prospective search you define a persistent query. Whenever anything is published that matches your query you are immediately notified. Through the PubSub service I have found numerous insightful and informative blogs on the topics that most interest me.

Prospective search can be thought of as an alerting service. Today there are many alerting services but they all offer different interfaces and only work within their own walled gardens. What I really want is a generalized alerting service that can notify me in a flexible and consistent way when ALL the things I'm interested in happen. The service will need to provide flexible notification delivery. I want to know about blogs that match my query in my blog reader but I want my flight delays delivered to my phone. Today's alerting services only provide alerts on their own data, are not consistent and as I have found don't really work.

Take Yahoo Alerts for example. I have a subscription to Notre Dame Football. As shown below the alert on the final score in yesterday's game came today at 1:03 in the morning. Needless to say by 1 AM I was fast asleep and I had already heard the final score.

Another altering service failure is ebay. In this example ebay sent me an alert of an auction I was watching 5 days after the auction concluded.

A generalized alerting service has yet to be developed. Can PubSub take the lead here? PubSub boasts it can deliver matches in seconds not days so it can easily beat the existing alerting services that simply don't work. The trick will be providing the right mix of really useful information with a consistent and flexible way to create, edit and deliver alerts.

From The Desk
From the desk

Richard Treadway