The well respected Danny Sullivan over at Search Engine Land has published a very in-depth and interesting article about The Wolfram Alpha “Fact Engine” as he’s calling it. As you may know from previous posts, Wolfram Alpha is the brainchild of Stephen Wolfram and uses a collated set of publically available data to provide answers to questions, rather than pointing you to the answers to your question like Google and Ask Jeeves do.
Danny covers the basic functionality of Wolfram Alpha in his article before raising some very interesting points about it’s future such as funding and whether people will actually use it:
“For reasons I’ve never seen fully researched or explained, people simply do not go to specialty search tools in mass numbers. Even at Google, the percentage of people going directly to its image or local search services is appallingly small, which has why it has made such an effort with universal search & blended results.”
Can Wolfram Alpha overcome this? As “unlike Wikipedia, Wolfram Alpha likely won’t get a chance to rank in Google’s own results. There’s no set number of pages that Google can crawl, though it will be interesting to see if some pages start getting listed if people link to specific searches (if someone links to a Wolfram Alpha search request, that might generate a page that Google and other search engines can read).”
Only time will tell, but hopefully we’ll all get to have a play later this month as Wolfram hopes to launch the engine before the end of May.