Reporting: Joe Hunkins
Early hype suggesting that new search engine Wolfram Alpha could be a possible “Google Killer” quickly shifted to a focus on Wolfram’s new approach to search, which they call “computational”. Although Technology-Report had early access to the program it is now open to all here: http://www.wolframalpha.com
Although I’ve only spent a short time looking for inspiration at Wolfram Alpha, I’d have to say I could not find any answers where I felt Wolfram would beat out a Google search combined with some quick scans of the listed resources. Wolfram’s promise was to deliver “the answer” to complicated questions but it seems to work well only for the kinds of information it appears they have already sliced and diced into packages, and I’m not clear it even beats out a Wikipedia entry when searching for data like states or countries where a packaged approach to the information is best.
In a case like this I’d argue Wikipedia is the clear winner, giving the user extensive information and links to more. Google second with good lists, and Wolfram a distant third with very limited information given the wealth of data online.
For students creating notes (or papers to hand in!) Wolfram may provide some great tools with its unique organization schema, but for most internet researchers and browsers I think Google has nothing to worry about here at all.