If you know PubSub (not to be confused with Google’s PubSubHubub) you’re an old timer in this space. PubSub was what Google Alerts was before Google Alerts existed. PubSub was the first example of the Power of Real Time Web back when @ev and @biz were still building Blogger.
Here’s the Wikipedia info describing what the original product was:
PubSub was a prospective search engine for searching blogs, press releases, Usenet, USGS earthquake alerts, SEC filings and FAA Flight Delay information.
The site, founded in 2002 by Bob Wyman and Salim Ismail, operated by storing a user’s search term, making it a subscription, and checking it against posts on blogs which ping the search engine. When a new match was found, the user was notified, even if it occurred months after the initial search. This feature led PubSub to call itself a matching engine. It also checks incoming Usenet posts, USGS earthquake alerts, press release via NITF, SEC filings and FAA flight delay information.
Results could be read on the service’s website, or on an optional sidebar, available for both Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox, written by Malcolm Pollack and Duncan A. Werner respectively, or via RSS. Results could also be delivered to remote systems via Restful APIs, email or XMPP
I’ve always had a soft spot and fond memories of PubSub. Richard MacManus has a good post from 2006 detailing the final days of PubSub
It’s a shame to hear from Bob Wyman that PubSub is in trouble and in big danger of shutting its doors. Bob says that “internal political issues” are behind PubSub’s demise and implies that this has deflected resources from actually improving the product. It’s not my place to comment on the politics, but I do think PubSub has dropped the ball on the product front.
PubSub once held so much promise… It was the first real ‘future search’ product to gain traction and it was an innovator in the area of custom RSS feeds. The somewhat clumsy term I’ve used for that is Topic/Tag/Remix Feeds and here’s what I said about it back in January 2005:
I was heart broken when Google ripped them off and then when they couldn’t continue to innovate, again when they went under (I’ve always suspected that Google’s PubSubHubub was somehow paying homage to the original PubSub they helped kill).
But now they’re back. And no surprise it’s a real time search engine that searches, blogs, Twitter, FriendFeed or anything with an RSS feed. But it just seems to be displaying sports results so far.
So far the site isn’t anything to get excited about yet but as far as I can tell they haven’t officially launched. I’m also willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
The CrunchBase posting hasn’t been updated yet and still says that Something Simpler (the new Vancouver , CA parent company) will be launching a new search engine in the winter of 2008. Well they only missed that mark be one year. Their own site has this to say:
In fact we’re burning the candle at both ends to deliver you services that up the signal and stomp out the noise, allowing you to read less and know more, and to never miss out on the events you truly would have enjoyed.
We’re a leading-edge company charting a new course in the next-generation of the Web: a web that is personalized just for you; a web that understands your needs and wants; and a web that allows the things you’re interested in to find you, rather than the other way round.
They’ve given PubSub the tagline “Find the Future” You can see their real time results page here http://pubsub.com/realtime
Our Publish/Subscribe engine supports advanced, context-based filtering, matching, and sorting of realtime web-based content. Later in 2008, we’ll be releasing an API so that you, too can enjoy the benefits of this powerful capability. In the meantime, keep checking back here for details or subscribe to our email notification list.
Besides PubSub they also have another product Pul.se which they say is only available in Facebook but the site just points to the same place as the PubSub site.
Pulse apparently has its own history:
By the sounds of the description of the Facebook app it seems to be a recommendation engine but I’m not personally familiar with it. There is a Fan Page but the actual application doesn’t seem to exist. Here’s the description from the Something Simpler site:
Keep your finger on the Pulse of Music, Movies, and more..
Pulse is an application (currently only available within Facebook) that learns about you and the things you like, and allows you to use a simple, fun compatibility test to determine which of your friends you have likes and dislikes in common with. Once Pulse knows enough about you, it begins to send you ideas about new music, movies, books, and other things which it thinks you might be interested in.
I can’t find anything on the blogs about their relaunch so this may be a stealth launch but there doesn’t seem to be much information available yet. Hopefully we’ll learn more soon and I look forward to PubSub finally living up to its potential.