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PubSub Government Tracks Political Discussion on Blogs and Web
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Posted On June 20, 2005
PubSub.com, a free search site that continuously monitors more than 11.6 million Web sources, has now set up a PubSub Government service (http://www.pubsub.com/features/government) to target political content. The sources tapped by PubSub include 10 million blogs and more than 50,000 newsgroups, plus press releases and key federal government Web sites. The new service lets users sign up to receive notices when specific pre-defined searches (called subscriptions, although no expenditures are involved) covering key governmental institutions and officials generate information or discussion. Categories of coverage offered by PubSub Government include George W. Bush, Richard B. Cheney, Cabinet Members (both members and the departments), U.S. Supreme Court Judges, Congressional Committees, and State Elected Officials (U.S. senators, representatives, and state governors). Further refinement of the search results, e.g., "Bush" and "Iraq," would require using the search capabilities of a news aggregator or transferring the saved search strategy in PubSub Government to the main PubSub service, according to Richard Treadway, chief marketing officer for PubSub.

The search terms used to create the saved searches in PubSub Government are visible once users have "subscribed," Treadway said. The strategies are designed to prevent name confusion, e.g., an "Edward Kennedy" other than the senator. At present, there is no way to add more refinement inside PubSub Government itself. When looking for members of Congress or governors, one clicks on a state-outline map and then clicks on the name or names desired. At present, there is no further information than the name and political party, e.g., no Congressional district. Nor is there any way to enter a geographical term (ZIP code, city name, county, congressional district, etc.) and find the appropriate name, Treadway confirmed. However, PubSub is quite open to suggestions. The company solicits input on the new service by recommending that users send comments or suggestions to government@pubsub.com.

Results can be delivered in several modes—via an RSS or Atom feed into a news aggregator, for reading directly on the Web site, or via a downloaded PubSub browser sidebar for Internet Explorer or Firefox to deliver updated content in real-time.

A report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project indicated that 37 percent of adult Americans and 61 percent of online Americans use the Internet to gather political information and join the political process. Many use blogs regularly in their news gathering and analysis. Announcing the new service, Bob Wyman, chief technology officer and co-founder of PubSub Concepts, Inc., stated: "Instead of just relying on professional reporters, citizens today are playing an active role in collecting, reporting, analyzing, and disseminating news through blogs. PubSub's prospective search is an easy way for political professionals and ordinary citizens alike to keep their ear to the ground and stay well-informed about pressing political personalities and issues."

Based in New York, PubSub was founded in 2002 and continues to expand its product line for "prospective searching," its name for the application of current awareness profiles to the expanding Web data flow. How can it give away this customized service? Treadway said that the company currently has three business models in mind to monetize its service. "We plan to embed relevant ads sometime in the future. Currently we are selling embedded service inside other services and Web sites. For example, several parties develop business intelligence services incorporating our service. In those cases we may share revenue on the ads or a royalty on the cost of service. In enterprise services, we may charge by the number of named users, for example." Treadway indicated that PubSub soon hoped to announce an arrangement with a media outlet incorporating its service.


Barbara Quint is senior editor of Online Searcher, co-editor of The Information Advisor’s Guide to Internet Research, and a columnist for Information Today.

Email Barbara Quint
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