Wolfram Alpha : The Real Thing

May 4, 2009 • 9:01 am | comments (5) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Other Search Engines
 

I cannot tell you how many emails I get from PR companies telling me that the next Google is here. Wolfram Alpha, a "fact engine" might be the closest search engine to meet that criteria and in my opinion, Wolfram Alpha does not compete with Google, but it will be a must use search engine.

Wolfram Alpha is a "fact engine" as Danny describes at Search Engine Land. Actually, before reading on here, you should first read Danny's review and then come back here.

I watched the full demo, live, last week and I was honestly blown away. It doesn't replace Google but it does fill a much desired need in the search business. Wolfram can answer your questions with hard cold facts. It is more than a Butler answering questions, it is a whole group of Harvard professors answering your questions with incredible detail and clarity.

Here is a quick demo of the screen shots of Wolfram Alpha:

Wolfram comes in and gives searchers something they have been missing. You can search for very specific things in the realm of science, math, geography, demographics, and so on and get not just the answer, but detailed information from real sources. There is really nothing like this out there at this scale.

A WebmasterWorld thread has some interesting comments from SEOs and webmasters on what Wolfram may have to offer:

Tedster: "I look forward to what this approach may offer. Wolfram brings fundamental genius on the level of Einstein and Hawking, rather than intelligence at the level of Page and Brin."

JS Harris: "Wolfram seems to be a different beast, not only is all the knowledge there but it's being analyzed and compared in some ingenious ways."

But most people in the thread are skeptical for good reason. But we need to think that a search engine does not have to compete with Google to be the next Google. It can fill a new need that has been unfilled in the past. I think Wolfram Alpha will fill that need.

I personally cannot wait to be able to test the new engine out sometime this month. It is currently not live, but they promised to make it live sometime in May.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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Comments:

Jerry Nordstrom

05/04/2009 04:19 pm

If search engines like Wolfram's become fact engines providing an accurate answer to each query will this not reduce the need for content sites supported by adsense and other monetization programs? Certainly niche sites have added value such as WebMD with nifty symptom checkers and all, Wunderground with great personalization tools, but the majority of the traffic to these sites stem from basic questions conducted on search engines... What's the swine flu and what's the marine forecast for San Diego tomorrow. Wolfram's fact engine may end the discovery funnel right at their site. Over time newcomers to places like WebMD will dwindle. Understood that there is an important and powerful social component to WebMD, but fewer consumers will find it as their initial research question will have been answered before they experience WebMD. And there is no reason that over time Wolfram could not replicate a feedback community for every type of resource provided. Not saying this is good or bad, just a game changer... IF the answers are accurate and presented in a fashion that can easily be consumed. What about Danny Sullivan's issue with copyright and content ownership? Where are these sources being picked up from to calculate the answers? With Wolfram be a huge licensed content engine? Perhaps the model will change with Wolfram paying content generators for the use of their content every time it is used in an answer? Pay Per Answer? Instead of current engines taking your content for free and making billions off of it? Should not each person or company own all of the data they generate and be compensated for it? Who will create the first licensing engine that establishes ownership, monitors usage, access, control and compensation of their data?

Isam

05/04/2009 10:14 pm

WolframAlpha is a question/answer search engine,apparently the technology that went into developping it is very sophisticated as it relies on six million lines of code from Matematica.I think we should all be very happy and excited that we will have at our disposal a wonderful tool to help us with our research, all we have to do is put up with some advertising.For people who want to dig deeper and research subject with a mathematical flavour this will be a god sent tool.

BrenDan Johnson

05/07/2009 07:37 pm

I think this is a very lucrative path to supply the next generation with research, and influence. I don't think that Mr. Wolfram tried to depict Google. I do impose that in the near future, it would be a good opportunity for both company to work together. I would be enlightening if this evolution ever happens. That to me will change the face of the internet forever.

No Name

06/13/2009 10:32 am

Wolfram Alpha is a good news in the area of search engines. It has some advantages compared to the other search engines. Still, it is not the competition to Google or other search engines, since it uses totally different approach. It is more like dictionary or encyclopedia than search engine.

No Name

07/05/2009 07:21 pm

I like Wolfram Alpha. It offers a completely new way of searching for information.

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