Russell Brunelle (russellb) wrote,
Russell Brunelle
russellb

Wolfram|Alpha

The press on Wolfram|Alpha (released yesterday) has it all wrong. Wolfram|Alpha was never intended to be a replacement for Google. It was never intended to be an online search form wherein you could type in anything and get SOME kind of answer, whether that answer addressed your question or not.

Rather, it was created to be something unique, and new: an online search form wherein if it can't give you a CORRECT answer to your question with ABSOLUTE certainty, then it won't give you an answer to your question AT ALL.

With this constraint, journalists shouldn't have been surprised when the majority of their queries didn't produce an answer.

But think about it: of all the queries which Google (or any other search engine) receives every day, some will be of an exploratory nature, and some will be queries stemming from a desire for an actual definitive answer. And if a definitive answer is possible, wouldn't it be nice to just provide that answer, and not bother returning any other search result?
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