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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Why Wolfram Alpha Sucks

Wolfram Alpha is this new computational search engine that is supposed to be finding answers to search queries by searching through a curated list of sites. Rather than showing you sources, it shows you the results. Pretty cool, right?

autism | (psychiatry) an abnormal absorption with the self; marked by communication disorders and short attention span and inability to treat others as people

Yeah, thanks. That's ever so helpful. I'm sure that's exactly what people searching for autism want to see. Add vaccines to the mix, and it doesn't know what to do with your search query at all. 

If I want to find out why the sky is blue or how far Mercury is from Venus, it's all over those answers, though. 

| current distances | light time Mercury to Venus | 0.406 AU | 202.6 s

Maybe in the future it will be the awesome research tool they claim it will be. 

1 comment:

  1. As often as I agree with posts on this site, I have to note that I disagree with this one. WA is not about searching the Web. As you noted, it's a computational engine. It returns scientific data about topics entered. It does arithmetic and mathematics. It's about dates, calculations, populations, prices, rates, and such.

    To be sure, it would be nice if it returned epidemiological data about Autism, and perhaps it will someday. (Warning: Minor snark ahead.) Try a search for "jenny mccarthy autism." At least one doesn't get the prattle one gets with other search engines.