By Harry McCracken | Friday, December 18, 2009 at 5:22 pm
If you mashed up Twitter and Google Alerts, you might get something a little like the new version of Trackle that launched today. The site’s been around for awhile, letting you construct alerts on just about any subject and get them delivered to your e-mail or your phone (or just to Trackle’s own inbox). Now it lets users share the alerts they’ve crafted with everybody else, making the service feel more like a community.
Already, Trackle stood out from competitors such as Alerts.com for its sheer breadth and customizability. Alerts.com offers twenty-two alert types, and while they’re all customizable, you can’t just go in and set up an alert for, say, the iPhone or the Boston Red Sox. With Trackle, you can–and it’ll scour news sites, Twitter, job sites, Craigslist, and other sources for relevant items. And you can then tweak it further, such as by adjusting the credibility of the sources you get alerted about (professional news sources are deemed to have more credibility than Craigslist or Twitter). You can also refine the alerts you’ll get to a particular type, such as saying you only want ones about iPhone-related jobs.
One of Trackle’s founders told me that one of the single most popular uses of the service so far is to get alerts on crime in your neighborhood–such as the ones below.
The community angle comes into play because Trackle now lets you see alerts created by other users. Unless they’ve chosen to keep them private, they show up in your search results, and you can choose to follow them, too. And users can submit feeds to Trackle so they show up in results (I added Technologizer, for instance).
It’s a neat idea, although I think it’s a little tough to tell the criteria behind another user’s Trackle. For instance, in the result above, I can tell that qukyken64 created a gaming-related trackle, but it’s not clear how he did so–so I’m not sure exactly what I’ll get if I follow it.
Trackle also seems to be going through some teething pains today. I’ve gotten a few error messages, for example. And with about every other click I make, it pops up a message asking if I want to recommend skiing-related alerts to my friends (please, I hope that’s a glitch, not intentional). Overall, though, I’m impressed–if you check the service out, let us know what you think.