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.
Related articles by Zemanta
- Stephen Wolfram Speaks About His New Question Answering Engine (singularityhub.com)
- Wolfram Alpha: Google’s Replacement for Factual Questions? (taragana.com)
- Can Wolfram Alpha kill Google or will it just be the next Cuil? (daniweb.com)
- Wolfram Alpha (manolith.com)
- British scientist developing ‘Google killer’ search engine (telegraph.co.uk)
- Stephen Wolfram and the techno-dianetics of Google-ology (arstechnica.com)
- British Search Engine ‘Could Rival Google’ (marketingpilgrim.com)
- Wolfram Alpha (mikeaxelrod.com)
- Mathematica Founder Developing Wolfram Alpha Search Engine (appscout.com)