PubSub sifts government Web

A New York-based technology company that matches up-to-date information culled from the World Wide Web against stored queries from subscribers has created a government version of its “prospective” search tool.

PubSub Concepts last week launched PubSub Government, which will deliver pre-built subscriptions of customized political content from blogs and syndicated Web sites to individuals who subscribe to the free service.

The technology continuously monitors more than 10 million blogs, 50,000 newsgroups, all Securities and Exchange Commission electronic filings, press releases from major wire services, earthquake data from the U.S. Geological Survey, and Federal Aviation Administration airport delay information.

The government version has established subscriptions for every House and Senate member, the nine Supreme Court justices, congressional committees, cabinet members Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush. Users can just click on who they want information on and up-to-date information about that individual is available on the site.

Richard Treadway, the company’s chief marketing officer, said PubSub’s search technology is different from a regular search engine, such as Google or Yahoo!, which crawl the Web and store pages in a large database.

"And when you make a query, you make a query against that large database," he said. "They're delivering you what they think is the most relevant response. So that’s why we say it’s retrospective because it’s looking at the past."

However, PubSub, which stands for publish and subscribe, does the inverse. Subscriber queries are stored and a "matching engine" processes every change on the Web against the stored query. If there’s a match then that information is delivered as a Really Simply Syndication (RSS) feed, or Atom feed into a news aggregator or read on the Web.

PubSub is offering government subscriptions because the last presidential race spurred a tremendous growth of blogs, Treadway said.

"It seemed a natural place for us to make the demonstration with government subscriptions to show how if you’re interested in hearing what people are saying about a particular candidate by subscribing to their name you’re able to get that information particularly easily," he said. "What that means is that instead of scouring around and looking for comments those are delivered to you and that means you’re monitoring over 10 million Web logs."

The company, which is more than 2 years old, including two years developing the technology, boasts a matching engine that is able to match at a rate of about 3 billion per second, Treadway said. He said Google Alerts and Yahoo Alerts provide similar type technology but not at the rate and breadth that PubSub can offer.

He would not say how many subscribers the company has, but he said there are a large number of users in the technology and political blogospheres. Although the service is free, the company plans to eventually make money through inserting advertising in search results. Treadway said the company also licenses its software to companies or organizations who want to use the technology for their site.

"We actually see a world in the future where this idea of syndication takes off," he said. "Everybody who has data would start syndicating it with that kind of structure that would allow you to match against it."


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