Wolfram Alpha, the ‘Answer Engine’ is up and running. The media fanfare has been quite spectacular however it is interesting to note that while some commentators hail Wolfram Alpha as the greatest thing since, well Google, others aren’t as in-awe of the new Search Engine on the block.
Is Wolfram Alpha Better than Google?
I have to admit to being in the camp of the not so impressed. Upon first visiting Wolfram Alpha I was disappointed to discover that the site doesn’t display correctly in Microsoft Explorer 6 (O.K., IE6 isn’t standards compliant so Wolfram Alpha are forgiven). I performed various searches as comparisons of Google and Wolfram Alpha and the following search text illustrates my findings: ‘who was born on 4 january 1973’.
In Wolfram Alpha the returned answers comprised mostly mathematical information such as; 36,34584 anomalistic years and the current age of 36 years 4 months 14 days but no information was given as to who was born on the date entered as search.
In Google, the answers / search results were relevant as I immediately was able to distinguish who was born on the searched date. The Google results were far from perfect however as a list of names would be far more relevant to my search rather than 24 million pages returned as relevant to the search.
Wolfram Alpha no match for Google nor Yahoo
Wolfram Alpha has a place I’m sure for mathematical related information. It does however seem very immature in that the results just generally aren’t specific to the question asked. I can’t see Wolfram Alpha attaining more than a very small fraction of the search market (unless the results returned are radically improved to be pertinent to the search text). With Google and Yahoo making more use of semantic information such as RDFa and Microformats, which will make search radically more accurate, Wolfram Alpha needs to be far better to pose any sort of threat to the established Search Engines.