While hanging out at one of the Las Vegas hotel bars during Pubcon a couple of weeks ago, one of the folks who I was talking with started getting a number of phone calls from Yahoo!. It was kind of late to call, but the calls came anyway. Seems he had set up Yahoo Alerts to contact him on his mobile phone when certain information was available.
I’ve used Yahoo and Google Alerts to track certain phrases in the news, and they can be a nice way of finding information that you otherwise might not have seen. If you haven’t used them, they are worth checking into. They can be helpful in tracking keyword phrases, doing a limited amount of reputation management, getting the latest sports scores, or finding about traffic incidents on the route of your daily commute. Explore them a little, and you may find some creative uses for them.
I get my alerts by email, but I can see how it might be useful to get some on your phone.
Yahoo was granted a patent on alerts this week. Don’t know what impact, if any, that will have on services like the one offered by Google. The services offered by each search engine are different. Google provides alerts for information appearing in news, blogs, the web, and usenet (groups). Yahoo supplies news keyword results, and alerts for a wide number of other services (stock quotes, sports results, traffic congestion information, horoscopes, and more), and they aren’t all keyword based the way that Google’s are. Yahoo also provides alerts via email, instant messenger, and mobile alerts, while Google’s are limited to email.
Invented by Matthias Eichstaedt, Thyagarajapuram S. Ramakrishnan, Patrick Loo, Jayachandran R. Menon, and Sotiris Matzanas
Assigned to Yahoo
US Patent 7,143,118
Granted November 28, 2006
Filed: June 11, 2004
An architecture for providing an alert message based on content that may be received as an event based feed or a time based feed in one or more formats. The architecture includes a data collection processing module for normalizing the content into a predefined data structure, and indexing the content for processing large amounts of content according to selected characteristics. A matching engine employs user queries to associate the event based content with one or more users who have indicated an interest in receiving alert messages associated with selected content. The matching engine also generates the corresponding alert messages. A poller fetches content on behalf or users at a predefined period and generates a corresponding alert message. A delivery interface determines which alert messages are to be sent immediately and which alert messages are to be scheduled for later delivery. The architecture is mirrored for scalability and backup.
A previous patent from Yahoo focusing just upon keyword based alerts was granted back in April, 2002 – System and method for personalized information filtering and alert generation
If you are interested in some of the technical aspects of how alerts work, you may want to dig into these patents (though there’s no guarantee that they are following all of the processes described in the patents). If you haven’t checked out alerts before, you may want to – they can be helpful.
Looks like my phone isn’t supported by Yahoo, though a good number are. I’m not sure that I really wanted Yahoo calling me late at night with an alert, anyway. Maybe they should add a “time to call between” feature (that may be in there, but I can’t test and tell.)