The Semantic Web gang gathered this month to discuss the recent launch of Wolfram Alpha and the endorsement of RDFa by Google.
My impression of Wolfram, to talk about it for a second, is that it fills a clear white space in the search engine arena, a space I would divide up into 2 sub-fields:
- FIND: when you seek a specific, well-defined piece of information, you’re into FIND mode. IMHO, that’s a task in which Google’s supremacy is fast eroding. If I seek a precise answer to a question, say the names of the different provinces in India or all the movies in which Sharon Stone played (not that I’d ever look for that), I tend to rely less and less on the search engine gorilla. I either go directly to Wikipedia (although it’s a little like Google in that it’s often serving me ‘too much information’), use vertical databases (such as IDMB for movies), or land directly on more targeted search engines such as Powerset or, now, Wolfram, which impressed me.
Granted, I sometime still use Google to access Wikipedia. But the point is, Google is not my exclusive entry point to the web in that scenario. So Wolfram may well have found a key weakness to exploit, as the statistical approach *may* not be ideally suited to this task. Will Wolfram steal significant volume of clicks from Google? I don’t know, a lot of that comes down to execution, but there is no denying it found a crack in the shiny armor. (more…)