Difficulty with Google Alerts for software agents
Three months ago I registered to receive a "Google Alert" for the term "software agent". To date, I've received only two alert messages. The first, more than a month ago, was for a paper dated 1995. The second, received this morning, was for a web page that has no references to the term "software agent", but Google's cached page header says that "These terms only appear in links pointing to this page". Furthermore the main text on the page (and also the text in Google's results list) is "Sorry there has been an error. The article you were looking for could not be found". I know that I myself have authored numerous web pages that Google is capable of seeing, and I've gotten no alerts on them. So far, the Google Alert feature has not been very useful, at least for me.
As a test, I just now registered an alert for the terms "intelligent agent" (no quotes).
I'm thinking that maybe I might need my own crawler and text data mining capability so that I myself can do a better job of tracking the evolution of the emerging software agent field. I don't feel up to it, but I'm not seeing the kind of tools I really need.
In truth, this is in fact a great application for software agent technology itself, but we presently have neither the tools nor infrastructure in place to easily implement such an application. The fact that even Google with all its brain power and financial resources has not mastered even simple alerts speaks volumes for the "state of the art".
The bottom line is that much research is needed in distributed computing, machine intelligence, and software agent technology before we can even begin to make a dent in some of these problems.