Good article in the Comment & Analysis section of today’s Financial Times, ” Wolfram Alpha asks some searching questions of the web,” by John Gapper.
The article points out that “[w]hile search engines are a starting point in a quest to find things out, Wolfram Alpha provides complete answers.” Or attempts to, anyway. According to the article, Wolfram Alpha is especially successful when dealing with “scientific and mathematical data, or the sort of information held routinely on public databases such as . . . World Factbook . . . ”
Unlike other search engines, Wolfram Alpha’s data “are not drawn from the web but from a database that is ‘curated’ by Wolfram Research. . . . Its data are drawn only from sources that are edited and checked . . . ”
The article also reports that next week Microsoft will launch what is codenamed Kumo, a search engine to compete with Google.
There’s more on a new Google feature too:
. . . “One of the hardest problems in computer science is data extraction. Can we look at the unstructured web and extract values and facts in a meaningful way?” asked [Google’s] Marissa Mayer, . . .
Ms. Mayer showed off Google Squared, an experimental new feature that would allow Google users . . . to assemble data about, for example, various breeds of small dogs in a form like a spreadsheet.