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Hello, Dora 
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Heinlein Nexus
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Post Hello, Dora
Watch this and glimpse the future:

http://www.wolframalpha.com/screencast/ ... alpha.html

Holy frack.


Fri May 29, 2009 8:22 am
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Post Re: Hello, Dora
This and Bing are going to change the shape of online search. Both put more integration into the search and results presentation, relieving the user of the need to drill into each result page and put together their own summary.

Google will actually do a great deal of what these new sites do, but it's not as smooth or commonly known. Go ahead and put an equation, a phone number, a UPS tracking number into Google. It does an amazing amount of stuff beyond simple searching, but hardly anyone knows it.

My bet at the moment is that Bing will displace Google. From what I've seen, Microsoft scored one of its rare triumphs there. Wolfram|Alpha, right from the name, is too offputting and science/tech/geek oriented for mass acceptance. (Once again, engineers come up with a really kewl idea and then forget that the mass user base is not technogeeks.)

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"Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders." - Luther
In the end, I found Heinlein is finite. Thus, finite analysis is needed.


Fri May 29, 2009 9:35 am
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Heinlein Nexus
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Post Re: Hello, Dora
James Gifford wrote:
Google will actually do a great deal of what these new sites do, but it's not as smooth or commonly known. Go ahead and put an equation, a phone number, a UPS tracking number into Google. It does an amazing amount of stuff beyond simple searching, but hardly anyone knows it.

My bet at the moment is that Bing will displace Google. From what I've seen, Microsoft scored one of its rare triumphs there. Wolfram|Alpha, right from the name, is too offputting and science/tech/geek oriented...


*waves hand* And yeah... but so what? I'm not concerned with who's going to be the most popular search engine - if popularity was all that counted we'd all be figuring out how to copy American Idol - I'm talking about naked information processing power. I knew about the Google goodies, but the first thing I did with W|A was, without looking at any video or input help, type
Code:
d(sin(x))/dx
- and it knew what I meant. I got the formula for the volume of a dodecahedron, the ratio of the atmospheric pressures of Venus and Earth, and the escape velocity of Titan without breaking a sweat. A huge domain of research suddenly got much easier. (Not to mention homework.) Stuff that Heinlein spent weeks hunting down can be done in a second.

Yeah, I'm not going to use it to figure out the best hotel to stay at in San Jose. But it's cool.

Maybe it's not Dora, though. Maybe it's Skynet...


Fri May 29, 2009 11:06 am
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Post Re: Hello, Dora
My point is that WA (and Bing, and Ask Jeeves, and the other high-integration search sites) aren't doing anything really new here. They're packaging the output in novel ways. If WA retains its academic science facade and thrust, I wonder how successful it will be over time, as the general population won't find it appealing and the university crowd tends to disdain canned answers. I've no doubt that WA will find a level of acceptance about like Wikipedia - good enough, if you're not too picky, but with flaws in its search and integration if you are an expert or other demanding user.

Success is important because at some point, these portal/tools are supposed to make their inventor owners gobs of money. (I still have trouble seeing HOW, exactly, but that's just me.) So if WA achieves its lofty goals but remains a minor player in the infosearch game, it will have few prospects for associated advertising and the scanty other ways free web sites can generate revenue.


Fri May 29, 2009 11:42 am
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