Wolfram Alpha

I’ve been waiting for the new computational search engine Wolfram Alpha for months now, and I must say I’m a bit underwhelmed. Unlike Google, it’s been designed from the ground up to answer very specific questions (for example, unemployment rate in Sydney); it uses Wolfram’s computational engine Mathematica to compute data on the fly. But for every search I’ve performed so far, Google still does far better. Maybe we just have to be patient – it’s still in nappies. The thing I am most concerned about though is Wolfram’s terms of use: unlike Google, you have to cite Wolfram as the source of your result. Although I sympathise with their reasoning (Wolfram actually computes some answers, ie the answer didn’t exist before you asked it) I think this is crazy from a business perspective – it will drive users away. Google doesn’t make such demands.

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