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Thursday, 27th July 2006

Keyword Focused RSS Alerts Delivered via SMS, IM, or Email: ZapTxt.com

Say hello to ZapTXT.com

It's a free service and is still not perfect (but what is) but deserves notice because of its ease of use and ability to share alerts in several formats. One to watch.

As your RSS feeds come in, you're notified of important posts (based on your keyword criteria, optional) via SMS (most major providers in the US and Canada are available), IM, and/or email.

Note: Be careful of how many SMS messages you're allowed from your wireless provider.

In other words:
+ Enter a feed URL
+ Determine Frequency of Alerts (Hourly, Daily, Immediate, as they are posted)
+ Determine Delivery Method (SMS, IM (Jabber), Email, Combo)
+ Select Keywords To Trigger Alert (Boolean Available). Again this is optional.

Now, if the post matches on those keywords, an alert is sent to you via SMS, E-Mail, IM.

Your criteria says that if Searchblog mentions "Bloglines" AND "Google Reader" you'll be notified. Or, if Google Blogoscoped mentioned the name Matt Cutts in a post, you would be notified.

Of course, if we can move away from the search world, this tool might be even more useful.

For example, instant notification of a new apartment for rent on Craigslist or a new job from Indeed.com. True, these services offer their own feeds but now you can know about the entry without having to login to your favorite web-based aggregator or be at your computer looking at your RSS client. As more non-blog, non-mainstream content becomes available in RSS form, services like this will also have a role. For example, a feed from your kid's school that the school is closed or closing early could now be in your hands (no matter where you are) in a matter of seconds.

Sometimes being the first to know can be very important. NOTE: Remember, all feeds don't offer full text. However, for those feeds, setting up RSS feeds via Technorati (they crawl the full text) might be a workaround.

Finally, ZapTxt.com is far from a new idea but its robustness makes it noteworthy.

For example, Yahoo offers keyword-based email alerts delivered via YIM, email, or SMS, but does not allow you to enter a specific RSS URL.

Google also offers keyword alerts. However, from what we can tell, their news alerts are only delivered via Gmail and will only trigger if the article is in the Top 10 results of Google News Search. Google Alerts also don't support SMS delivery.

However, with Google Blog or News Search, Bloglines/Ask Blog Search, Topix, or any news or blog engine that offers results via RSS, ZapTXT will work.

Biggest issue: Alerts received via SMS do not contain a url to the full text of the post. Plus, remember that SMS messages have a maximum of 160 characters max. However, ZapTXT offers an RSS client (powered by bluepulse) that's synched to your ZapTXT account, or once an alert is received, simply go to your mobile aggregator (My Yahoo, Bloglines Mobile, Google Reader) and get the full text. Suggestion: label your alerts by source.


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