News monitoring & alert services

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As an ASX "participant" I have used Wotnews, Yahoo! Alerts and Google Alerts to monitor for news pertaining to my investments, particularly based on key officer names, product names, and obviously the company names.

Wotnews works well because they've restricted their corpus to Australian sources. I get a single email each morning with a list of relevant headlines and a short snippet from each article. Problem is that Wotnews is closing down soon.

Google & Yahoo! alerts are pretty noisy because of the fact that they scour the entire web. Besides that, it's apparent that no one at Google actually uses their news alerts service because it's quite obviously broken -- articles that are in their news index don't show up at all in the relevant arlert and it has remained that way for weeks at a time.

So I read with interest Jason Calacanis' most recent missive on his latest experiment, the LAUNCH Ticker.

I share his first 3 desires:

1. Just the facts in as few words as possible.
2. Only cover things you think I would find interesting/important
3. Give me screenshots, graphs and appropriate links as cleanly as possible.

The tricky thing is #2 and consequently how you implement #1 & #3, though I consider the latter two nice to have as no one has solved relevancy (#2) well.

Jason's LAUNCH Ticker works great for him I'm sure but to me it's full of irrelevant crap. That's not his fault obviously, we simply have different interests.

Relevant is hard -- there's the relevant news you know you want and can, for example, specify the right keywords for: people, topics, brands, etc, essentially entities expressable as text. And there's related news that you don't yet know you'd be interested in -- for example a new competitor, a new product, a new industry.

I think the latter though is another nice to have. No one seems to have solved the basic problem that given a list of entities, please give me a concise summary of relevant news.

To give a concrete example, Wotnews turns this:

Into this:

Granted Wotnews is not perfect; there's still a bit of noise (what I would call tech industry trash gossip). But it saves me from scouring 5-10 individual papers, and it picks up the odd relevant blog post.

If there's any bright sparks out there who would like some end-user advice on building such a tool please feel free to get in touch. Over the years I've seen many "personalised news" services come and go and very few of them produce anything useful.

I'm not aware of any service that uses a real entity/knowledge graph to filter relevant news, though I'm yet to try out LexisNexis' services (if anyone has any experience here please share, I'd like to know how well their services work, and the rough pricing).

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This page contains a single entry by goosmurf published on July 25, 2012 1:33 PM.

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