Wolfram Alpha Launch: The Dawn of a New Era for the Web?
Wolfram Alpha is an intriguing new search engine which is based on building a large set of facts into a system and making it computable. On May 15th at 7 pm, WolframAlpha became public. Initial queries like “What is the meaning of life?” Answer: 42 were quite hilarious. (fyi, references the age-old Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy)
After a few more queries, it became clear that there are a lot of facts which the system does not yet know about. However, we believe that it will quickly change.
Stephen Wolfram, the mastermind behind Mathematica and A New Kind of Science which proved to big a huge success and brought world recognition to the author, is now challenging the concept of search engine. Wolfram Alpha is targeted to put the rules of mathematical data and linguistics together to compile the worlds first computational knowledge engine. At the base of this quite ambitious project, is the belief in the power of mathematical knowledge in generating effective solutions to a wide range of problems.
For years search engines have been trying to improve the relevance of the search results. When Google first appeared, it became an online sensation by providing the closest match to all search queries. In relatively short time, Yahoo, MSN and others were left behind as Google established its reputation of the industry leader with the market share close to 70%.
Wolfram Alpha offers a refreshing approach to improving the search results. It eliminates the guesswork and the hassle of going through a variety of webpages to find the best answer to your question. Wolfram Alpha uses a special algorithm to pull the information from different sources and combine them into a complete logical answer.
People tend to be righteously skeptical about the release of new search engines. We have seen the appearance and quick decay of many of them which failed to deliver their far-going promises. Is Wolfram Alpha one of the many destined to be buried under Google dominance or if incredibly successful, is it going to become the next “Googlekiller”?
We lean towards the opinion that Google and Wolfram Alpha are not necessarily fierce rivals since people will go to each of them for different reasons. Google is very effective when you need to find various information sources and go actual webpages, whereas Wolfram Alpha will be most useful when you look for simple factual answers to your questions. The latter can definitely divert some of Google’s traffic yet it won’t be sufficient to change the entire search engine hierarchy.
An interesting note is that fact oriented processing engines like WolframAlpha effectively eliminate the previous search engine optimization rules.
Truth to be said, at this early stage we can only make up theories and now that we’ve had time to play with it, Google has nothing to worry about in the near future. History has proven multiple times that a true success is rarely about having a great idea but more so about its execution.
However, if Wolfram Alpha meets even a portion of its high expectations in the future, it could be a new intriguing web destination. In any case, building a huge computational cluster, with billions of factoids, and mathematical logic seems like the perfect precursor for the future Skynet.
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