[ Ø ] Harsh Prakash – GIS Blog

Quiet Musings On Applied Spatial (Health, Disaster, Technology, Planning et al.)

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Webinar Series: GIS TECH 101 – Mapping Mashups

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Taking Wolfram|Alpha on an Alpha Run

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Wolfram|Alpha is being billed as an Answer Engine for the scientifically-minded, as opposed to a Search Engine: It takes your query, implied or otherwise, that critical step further by selecting from its list of matches, the one objective description, image etc, and lays them out in context. Not that Google never attempts definitive answers [chord], but when it does, Wolfram|Alpha [note] handily beats it to it with background information. START, on the other hand, is sometimes embarrassing. Note that it may not know what to do, but it does not give the wrong answer. Yet.

So Wolfram|Alpha dares to do more than say, Google or Yahoo or Microsoft, and impresses despite its alpha status.

There are inherent risks in such an approach in that it hopes our queries are frequently specific enough, which in some cases, will not be because that is how we generally are. There is also that small issue of assigning culpability to its user for a dumb query. But through consistent performance and by avoiding curation, link-fraud etc pitfalls, Wolfram|Alpha has the potential to wean away some of the Google fan-base, notwithstanding Google Squared. And by targeting the scientific community, it has the potential to emerge as a niche Answer Engine despite semantic ambiguity or crowd-sourcing.

Bookmark it now. And keep checking.

Here are some stumpers:
* What is the elevation above sea level at 38.889483,-77.035254? Wolfram|Alpha v Google v START
* What was the annual revenue of the state of Maryland for Fiscal Year 2007?
Wolfram|Alpha v Google v START
* What is the maximum height of the Guggenheim Museum NY? Wolfram|Alpha v Google v START
* How many symphonies did Sergei Rachmaninoff compose? Wolfram|Alpha v Google v START

* Developers

Written by Harsh

May 17th, 2009 at 7:52 pm