Thursday, 21 May 2009

More on Wolfram Alpha

I've actually been surprised at the lack of blogger opinion that this development has received. For me, once I had used Wolfram Alpha in one of the areas that it works well for I found going back to Google a bit quaint, like going back to your old iPod, the fond memory of an old interface...If I was Nick Hornby I would probably write at length here about ex-Girlfriends, but you get the idea.
Wolfram Alpha is amazing, if you start thinking about the kinds of computing that is going on behind the scenes, it is clearly a real step forward in information retrieval. At launch it is quite limited in terms of the quantity of information that it knows (it does KNOW in a way that Google doesn't), and the sophistication of its recognition of what you want to know, but if the team behind it are smart (hard to imagine they aren't) the queries going in now are informing the development path for this product and when advances are made it will be hard to imagine life without it. I guess what I am saying is that I believe the hype.
Of course the two products are not direct competitors for most of the services that Google Search offers, indexing static content is still extremely important, but I think Wolfram Alpha will carve out a growing niche and deprive google of searches in the same way that Google deprives libraries of basic reference queries (what is the capital of..., how many..., how big is... etc).
William Gibson reportedly said: "The future is here, it's just not widely distributed yet"