Monday, 18 May 2009

WolframAlpha versus Google

Over the last two years there has been a number of new search engines that have been launched that have claimed to be able to take Google's crown. Many have tried, lured sometimes though a desire of the creator to make the world a better place. Most however have been created to try and get access to the revenues that Google enjoys as the world's search engine of choice.

The latest to join this list is a search engine created by a British scientist Stephen Wolfram, a British computer scientist now based in Illinois. His new engine is the web’s first “computational knowledge engine”. In English that means that it only holds factual data and all the data has come from official websites, libraries and academic journals, and checked by experts.

It is getting a lot of hype because the engine that drives it can link every piece of information in its database to other bits of information that are related. So for example if you type in GDP Spain not only do you get text results based on those keywords but it also brings back graphs and also related content such as economic reports. So from plain English questions you get detailed academic results.

Looking at the engine now it looks like a tool for academics rather than those who just want to find a picture of Paris Hilton. Google indexes the whole web which means the dross as well as the valuable stuff, reporting results in an order based on a range of variables. This new engine just looks at the factual. What this means is by definition it will be limited in its content and i suspect use, although a targeted search engine for research is no bad thing. However its the process of linking data of different types to a plain English input could be he start of the next generation of how we search online. Google started this with its Universal search project and this looks like another step on the way.

Check it out here: www.wolframalpha.com

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