Monday, March 12, 2012

Google Alerts & the Speed of Sound

A few years ago I created the Darwin Awareness Engine to overcome information overload when trying to remain aware about what is going on, but more importantly I wanted to avoid reading content that did not offer value unless it was indicative of something emerging, new or unexpected.   At the time I used RRS feeds and Google Alerts in an effort to stay on top of topics that mattered to me.  I also wanted the information to be fresh, (unlike Google search that is the victim of SEO popularity gangster and old information that is useful but not necessarily timely).

Short of spending an enormous amount of time blog-hopping and searching, using very precise and advanced queries, my options to discovering the unexpected and recent content remained very limited.  Google Alerts appeared to be the only accessible option to entering a topic.   But here is the problem.  Google Alerts are NOT ALERTS.

An Alert is supposed to be heard when something is happening.  That means NOW, not days after.  I did not realized that the internet was limited by conventional laws of physics "Capt'n".  Apparently even a warp-drive could help here.

Now lets' have fun with a concrete example:
  • The speed of sound is approximately one mile in five seconds (768 mph in dry air at temperature of 68 °F)
  • I received my alert on "Awareness Engine" on March 11, 2012 at 9:57am
  • The blog entry it referenced was created on March 7, 2012 at 9:21am
  • It took 4 days, 0 hours, 36 minutes for Google to send me this alert
If this post was read in Boston, the speed of sound would have carried the message around the earth  for 73,728 miles.  That is 3 times the earth circumference before Google Alert discovered it.  So now I have to find a sub-speed-of-sound means of transportation to get this blog to Google for its alert to find it.  What can travel from Boston, MA to Mountain View, CA in 96 hours?  Here are the options:
  • Greyhound 39 mph (A little tho fast for Google Alerts)
  • Whippet 35 mph
  • Jackal 35 mph
  • Mule deer 35 mph
  • Rabbit (domestic) 35 mph
  • Hawkmoth — 33 miles per hour (This is the ideal candidate!) 
  • Giraffe 32 mph 
  • Reindeer 32 mph

Considering this outcome of this highly scientific test, the Hawkmoth appears to be the preferred mode of information transmittal method for Google Alerts!

No wonder why Google is now tapping into social networks to overcome its limitation around real-time search and alerts (read my other blog post for more on this topic).

In contrast, Darwin Ecosystem's customers start by giving us a list of RRS feeds and Google alerts that they use to track what matters to them (80% ends up in the trash can).  No surprise here, and we shared the same pain of wasting time and not being informed in time.  Even worse, not knowing what they don't know, but should know.

Here is where the Darwin Awareness Engine differs.  We dedicate an Awareness Edition to the topic(s) of interest and we let the system fetch information as it happens on the Web through queried RSS search feeds that are exempted of SEO and popularity ranking.  This means that you get the blogs, news and other Web 2.0 content as it is being posted and relates to your topic(s).  Additionally, the Darwin Awareness Engine, offers a REAL alert that not only alerts you when new information comes in, but an alert that is also capable of distinguishing a change in the context since the last time you consulted the system.  Yes, the Darwin Awareness Engine gives you alerts about emerging themes and does not bother you when the same old, same old keeps showing-up.

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