Is it possible? Is it truly, really real and possible?
In case you haven’t already heard there is a very interesting and exciting ‘computational knowledge engine’ website on the Internet. The site is Wolfram|Alpha which launched May 15th of 2009. They have a lofty goal in mind. To paraphrase, they mean to deliver any and all computable data and information to the masses.
Although some have touted Wolfram|Alpha as the next big search engine I believe it is exactly what they market it as: a computational knowledge engine. A computational knowledge engine is much different than a search engine. A search engine grabs reams of existing pages and dumps them to a search result while the other computes specific information for the final result. To better understand in part what the computational knowledge engine does we can see some examples from the current search engines. To name a few, the calculator, mapping, distances, and language definitions.
What excites me about Wolfram|Alpha is the potential for high quality information. Wolfram|Alpha will gather good information from trusted sources, systematically compute it and only then provide you with the results. Our current crop of search engines typically grab mass amounts of pages or data from any and every source that may or may not have valid information.
What excites me is Wolfram|Alpha’s focus on starting with solid data and information. This helps resolve the problems that often occur with the current crop of search engines. The existing lack of quality control by current engines can be summarized perfectly with a term used in the IT world known as GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out. Wolfram|Alpha’s focus on good information in will translate to less time sorting through garbage results from bad sources. The assurance of quality results will save me a lot of stress, frustration and cut down my Aspirin expenses.
See Wolfram|Alpha computational knowledge engine in action at http://www.wolframalpha.com/
Examples of what it can do: http://www.wolframalpha.com/examples/