I feel that I must post about this. Wolfram/Alpha, which is a new “Computational Knowledge Engine.” Now, I’m not PROUD, I haven’t been following this innovation for years or anything. The fact is, I read about it on the subway this morning in one of those free newspapers.

So there it was, a short blurb on the Google Killer, Wolfram/Alpha, which claims to give search engine results based on verified facts! I mean, come on, that’s all that anyone’s asking here–for verified, authoritative information to appear when we enter a search string into a search engine.


I hastened to work to test it, but found that it wasn’t how the free newspaper characterized it. It’s by no means a Google killer. There IS room in this town for the two of them–the two can coexist just fine. If you enter a distance or mathematical question into Wolfram/Alpha, you’ll get an answer. And it will be the right answer–based on scientific or mathematical fact.

If you enter something a little more theoretical, such as “probability of getting a job in Washington DC,” you will get this: Wolfram|Alpha isn’t sure what to do with your input. Which, based on the Googlization of search, seems WOEFULLY inadequate. I was hoping at least for a listing of pertinent articles or web sites. But that’s not what Wolfram/Alpha is for or about. No, Wolfram/Alpha’s goals are more lofty than that:

“Wolfram/Alpha’s goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone. We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything. Our goal is to build on the achievements of science and other systematizations of knowledge to provide a single source that can be relied on by everyone for definitive answers to factual queries.”

Now, that would be something ELSE. What a great idea! All existing knowledge, all objective data, every known model available to every searcher! What could be more fabulous!

Now look, I don’t want to sound too sarcastic. This search engine just launched on Friday, and here it is Tuesday. There is plenty of time to improve; Google took time as well. Let’s give them a chance and see what they can do. When it comes to theoretical knowledge, they may prove to be wanting. Otherwise, when you know you need a definitive, scientifically proven exact answer, Wolfram/Alpha may be your destination.


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