Yotify: Baby Steps Towards Software Agents

Yotify - My Scouts - Mozilla Firefox (Build 2008070206)The promise of intelligent software agents has been floating around for a long time. Yotify is the latest to try to deliver on this promise. The idea is fairly simple: you tell Yotify what you’re interested in, and it scours the web and sends you daily updates. For example, you could tell Yotify to instantiate a “scout” that follows Craigslist job postings on your behalf, or one that updates you on the latest search results for a particular term. Results are delivered by email or through the Yotify interface. There are also some social features – you can invite friends and share scouts, or make them public.

Though the idea is sound, I find myself wanting scouts with more smarts than the ones they’ve supplied so far. For example, on the Craigslist scout I’d love to be able to do a search of ALL the Craigslist sites for Rails telecommuting jobs – something you can’t easily do in the Craigslist UI. But the scout requires you to pick a particular city to watch. The search results doesn’t seem to offer any advantage over subscribing to a Google search RSS feed. So, I have to mark this one as “promising”, but I don’t think they’ve delivered yet. The service is in closed beta, but it didn’t take me long to get an invitation after requesting one.

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