Friday, May 22, 2009

Google not quite killed off yet.

I can't see the much-anticipated 'Google-killer' Wolfram|Alpha search engine taking over the world any time soon. Seemingly the difference between Wolfram|Alpha and a traditional search engine is that the former is able to compute data on the fly, rather than simply returning keyword results from existing pages. Well, I think I know what that means, but presumably it still needs to have some data on hand in order to be able to compute.
For instance, since it seems to like questions, I tried: Where is Mike Crowl in Dunedin? Its response was: Wolfram|Alpha isn't sure what to do with your input.
I thought I'd try something simpler: Mike Crowl in Dunedin. Same response.
Mike Crowl Dunedin. Same response.
Putting just Dunedin in gives some info, but nothing that you wouldn't get anywhere else on any other search engines. But put in my name on its own and it tries to tell me I've spelt my surname wrong. Should be 'crown' according to WA.
It has examples of what it can do over to the right of the page. And of course they work perfectly: but you'd rather expect them to, wouldn't you?
You can watch a video of what it will do, though whether most Google users would want to bother is another thing. When you do watch it, you find that the information WA will give is very specific, very detailed and very good - and formated beautifully, but it's not interested in the world outside its own particular universe. Which means that Google still has the upper hand, as far as I can see.
WA will have its uses, I guess. But since most people using Google aren't looking for school-book, university-textbook information, then I suspect they'll be sticking with the Big G for a while yet.
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