Over the weekend, Wolfram Alpha was launched. And Google got worried. Let’s see if it needs to be worried with a little test of what they can do, and for no good reason at all, chuck Ask Jeeves into the mix too…
Search Term: Malcolm Owen
WA: Finds both Malcolm and Owen as names, comparing the two with US population stats with graphs over time, etc
Go: Obituaries about the lead singer of The Ruts, with Wikipedia as top listing. A post by me is 10th.
AJ: More obituaries for the singer, but a much more varied response after the first couple of listings.
Search Term: Third Tallest Mammal
WA: Doesn’t want to know
Go: Giraffe (Wrong, I want the THIRD tallest), mammals of Pennsylvania, “Mamma Mia!”
AJ: Similar to Google in terms of variety and wrongness.
Search Term: Chuck Norris
WA: Name, Place and Date of Birth, and, I kid you not, a TIMELINE of Chuck Norris, a straight line from 1940 onwards…
Go: Facts, Official Site, Wikipedia, Facts Facts Facts
AJ: Facts, Official Site, General Info, More Facts
Search Term: New York, London
WA: Populations, Distance, Local Time, Elevation
Go: Flights, Hotels, Gordon Ramsay, BBC News Story and a video of The Cranberries
AJ: Flights, Ramsay, BBC News Story, Vogue
Am I impressed by Wolfram Alpha? Not hugely. It just doesn’t want to know anything about things I care about, such as Chimpanzees Riding on a Segway. Maybe the data I’m throwing at it just isn’t what it’s looking for, such as mathematical equations. The speed is an issue, with Google spouting some answers almost instantly, and with some search term crafting would be practically unbeatable.I suppose it will get better the more information it sucks into itself, but I feel I’m going to have to stick with Google for the forseeable future.
Side Note: Ask Jeeves held it’s own. Granted, it’s not as fantastic as Google, but it stayed up there…