Wolfram Alpha is live. For those of you who haven’t heard of Wolfram Alpha, it’s the very recently launched massive knowledge base from the makers of the premier mathematics program, Mathematica. It’s a massive computation engine but it’s not like any search engine you’ve ever seen. The best way to learn about it is to try some examples. Alpha’s visual gallery of examples is a good source of query ideas.

I think that Alpha is pretty cool and that what it does it does remarkably well. However, I think the Google generation isn’t going to like Alpha for some of the same reasons that they don’t like federated search; Alpha doesn’t offer instant gratification the way Google does. There’s actually a learning curve, something that Googlers are not used to. Plus Google always give you something interesting to read regardless of how badly you butcher your query. Not so with the narrowly focused federated search engines and definitely not so with Alpha.

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