A Tale of Two Search Engines: Wolfram's Alpha & Google Public Data Search

Image representing Wolfram Alpha as depicted i...
Image via CrunchBase

There is talk in the tech world of upstaging and skullduggery (I just really wanted to use that latter term in a post) between the mysterious Wolfram / Alpha search engine and the very recently release (read: yesterday) of Google’s new Public Data Search and Charts. All of the hoopla concerns the mining of structured data (data that is susceptible to treatment by semantic overlay). Wolfram / Alpha is a computational knowledge engine to be launched at some point in May. The engine will seek to “compute” actual answers to query questions with factual results rather than a list of sites containing search terms without regard to their relationship. The language interface will be sensitive to how questions are framed. The results will be based on fields of knowledge, data and algorithms. The engine will compute the answer, rather than relay canned answers to specifically programmed questions. If you would like to read more detail on how it will work (I definitely recommend the read – it is fascinating), check out this guest post at TechCrunch.

Yesterday, during the first public demo of the engine by Wolfram, Google announced on it’s blog the newly available ability to find and compare public data. The example cited by Google in the blog is the unemployment rate in Santa Clara County as compared to the national average. Format the search as suggested by Google in the blog and you will get factual results. Click on the results and you will see an interactive chart that lets you add or remove data. Google posits that there are tons of “interesting public data” to be mined on the Web in this fashion. “No duh” on that count!

Why now, Google? Could Google be worried about competitors like Wolfram / Alpha and the improved research experience they promise? I am thinking that they should be. So does Wolfram / Alpha: they apparently fired back at Google with some screen shots showing just how superior the Alpha experience is. Check the article about the cross-fire here.

TechCrunch’s article belies a “show me the money” attitude that tends to favor the vastly more limited offering from Google because it is a “bird in the hand” and the Wolfram / Alpha, despite public demos and screenshots, is still just “vaporware” at this point. I respectfully disagree. I am far more excited about what Wolfram has promised than by what Google has produced.

All sparring aside, the real winners here are us ‘Net-users who regularly look on-line for research needs. As the brilliant Web architects come up with better, faster and more accurate means of mining and distilling the vast amounts of on-line info, we will reap the benefits in the fruits of our own Web labors.

Edited to fix the massive typos and grammar errors from my %$#@#$& iPhone keyboard.

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A Tale of Two Search Engines: Wolfram’s Alpha & Google Public Data Search

Image representing Wolfram Alpha as depicted i...
Image via CrunchBase

There is talk in the tech world of upstaging and skullduggery (I just really wanted to use that latter term in a post) between the mysterious Wolfram / Alpha search engine and the very recently release (read: yesterday) of Google’s new Public Data Search and Charts. All of the hoopla concerns the mining of structured data (data that is susceptible to treatment by semantic overlay). Wolfram / Alpha is a computational knowledge engine to be launched at some point in May. The engine will seek to “compute” actual answers to query questions with factual results rather than a list of sites containing search terms without regard to their relationship. The language interface will be sensitive to how questions are framed. The results will be based on fields of knowledge, data and algorithms. The engine will compute the answer, rather than relay canned answers to specifically programmed questions. If you would like to read more detail on how it will work (I definitely recommend the read – it is fascinating), check out this guest post at TechCrunch.

Yesterday, during the first public demo of the engine by Wolfram, Google announced on it’s blog the newly available ability to find and compare public data. The example cited by Google in the blog is the unemployment rate in Santa Clara County as compared to the national average. Format the search as suggested by Google in the blog and you will get factual results. Click on the results and you will see an interactive chart that lets you add or remove data. Google posits that there are tons of “interesting public data” to be mined on the Web in this fashion. “No duh” on that count!

Why now, Google? Could Google be worried about competitors like Wolfram / Alpha and the improved research experience they promise? I am thinking that they should be. So does Wolfram / Alpha: they apparently fired back at Google with some screen shots showing just how superior the Alpha experience is. Check the article about the cross-fire here.

TechCrunch’s article belies a “show me the money” attitude that tends to favor the vastly more limited offering from Google because it is a “bird in the hand” and the Wolfram / Alpha, despite public demos and screenshots, is still just “vaporware” at this point. I respectfully disagree. I am far more excited about what Wolfram has promised than by what Google has produced.

All sparring aside, the real winners here are us ‘Net-users who regularly look on-line for research needs. As the brilliant Web architects come up with better, faster and more accurate means of mining and distilling the vast amounts of on-line info, we will reap the benefits in the fruits of our own Web labors.

Edited to fix the massive typos and grammar errors from my %$#@#$& iPhone keyboard.

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Crossing My Fingers Here …

FIDANI chocolate factory visit 01 - golden ticket
Image by suanie via Flickr

I really couldn’t resist now, could I? I just put my hat in the ring to be a citizen reviewer of the Palm Pre. It’s called the Real Reviewer program and you can access the survey / application on Palm’s site. The lucky Golden Ticket holders will get to play with a “current model” Palm phone with six months of service. In return, you have to wax eloquently about your hands-on experience to anyone and everyone you know about just how shiny the Pre (oops, did I say Pre? – I meant “current model” Palm phone) actually is.

I think I might be up for this challenging assignment. 😉

If you too are interested, head on over and fill out the survey here.

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FeedDemon & Google Reader – Together At Last!

Newsgator Feeddemon
Image by labnol via Flickr

It truly is a happy day for me when my two RSS readers decide to join forces and play nice. My first love, Newsgator’s FeedDemon, is a fabulous application, with desktop, online and mobile access, synched across platforms. Everything about FD is easy as Pi.

More recently, I joined the masses and started using Google Reader as well to keep track of a different set of feeds. There is much to love about this reader of mass appeal, including sharing stories and Greasemonkey scripts via Firefox that let me send stories straight to Twitter.

On Wednesday, FD announced that it now supports synching with G Reader and G Reader Shared Items!

The newest beta version of FD offers the synch option within the tools menu or when downloading fresh. If you want the G Reader synch, simply select that option, enter your credentials and decide whether you want to delete existing subscriptions in G Reader. When all is said and done, you will see a new folder for G Reader shared items in FD and all your FD subscriptions when you open G Reader!

Hat tip to Shooting At Bubbles. Check out the screenshots here

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