And if so, will it make us even stupider? Only one more week until we find out! This could be the datahead's ideal engine:
It'll tell you the family, genus, species, and caloric value of an apple, and it'll forecast Apple's stock price, but it won't give you apple pie recipes. It'll tell you the box office take of the first "Star Trek" movie, but it won't tell you the theater where you can see the newest "Star Trek" movie.
But a technical audience is still big. This could unlock a lot of data that students, research assistants, lawyers, marketing managers, financial analysts, and scientists might not have readily available. And those folks are important, too--just the kind of influential folks people with Web sites like to reach. (CNET)
On the other hand, I don't see "Wolfram|Alpha" becoming a verb anytime soon. "I Wolframed the depth of the Grand Canyon"? "I W|A'd the distance to the moon"? "I WAlphed my ex"? I think I make my point.
Wolfram|Alpha launches May 18. In the meantime, you can watch the really poor quality demo video after the fold.
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if you use words like "stupider" (as opposed to writing "more stupid") people may wonder if you've been Wolfram|Alpha-ing too much!
I like Google. It is hard to remember life without it. Back in the early days of the web, I used to own a telephone sized book--The Internet White Pages--a listing of different web sites, categorized and indexed like a phone book. I don't remember it being very useful, but in the days before search, finding a web site was often an exercise in frustration.
I am looking forward to Wolfram Alpha. Unlike Cuil, it is not looking to be the new Google. It seems optimized to solve a different kind of problem. I hope they succeed.
HA! Love your angle on using Wolfram as a verb. Can't see that happening anytime soon thought it certainly would fun to see that catch on. I agree with Kevin where I don't think this is even trying to take the Google crown.
I wrote up a little article on this yesterday. Would be interested in your thoughts: http://www.sagerock.com/blog/wolframalpha-not-google-killer/
Greg and Kevin, yeah, I agree it's not going head to head with Google. I think it's interesting that the press coverage is spinning it that way though. Is there no other framework for talking about a new data interface now, or is it just too hard to explain the difference?
Although I do sympathize with the difficulty of explaining these things. I was at a Web 2.0 panel last week and someone asked about Web 3.0; I briefly considered talking about Wolfram|Alpha or some other new project and then went the easy route of not even answering, because it would have taken too long. Someone needs to come up with a nonspecialist-friendly Web 3.0 description we can all use - "semantic web" means less than nothing to most people.
Ian - but that's why stupider is such a delicious word!! It has a clear meaning, and then redoubles that meaning by being itself a representation of it! (The only other example I can think of right now is "mispelled.") It's a property that should have a name - like onomatopoeia.