ZapTXT is a Mountain View start-up that pushes the envelope on letting you track news.
It gives you a way to pick out specific words or topics on from a blog or other Web site, and to be alerted only when those words appear, saving you the hassle of having to wade through reams of information were you to read the site’s entire contents.
For example, a cancer patient can monitor “Herceptin” across a number of cancer blogs, the NYT health section, and the FDA’s approval site. Or Silicon Valley dealmakers can track “Google and acquisition” only on VentureBeat, Feld Thoughts and Infectious Greed.
The interface is user-friendly, giving non-techies an easy way to deal with this daunting world of RSS without really subjecting them to the term. It lets readers get the alerts by email, IM or SMS for mobile phone (see the image below). Or, if you’re set on using a feed reader like Bloglines, you can take it all there too.
The company is self-funded, but is not ruling out raising an angel round.
ZapTXT can also monitor a blog’s comments, so a reader can stay up with reaction to a blog post long after it was published.
Finally, for publishers, ZapTXT is introducing an analytics program that lets them know what people are looking for on their site, i.e., which keywords people are asking for. There’s more here.
How is this different from Google news alerts? Well, with Google, you can’t specify which blogs you want to target, nor keep up with comments. See the Google box below. ZapTXT also gives publishers a sign (widget) on their blog showing readers directly how to do all this (rather than assume readers will go to ZapTXT and figure it all out themselves.)