Google's friend or foe? Wolfram Alpha
Wolfram Alpha is a computational knowledge engine developed by the British physicist Stephen Wolfram, which might be available for the public at large for free anytime soon, as the announcement on the official website states.
Tiresome the technology's denomination might be, the simple fact about it is this: Wolfram Alpha, a more complex search engine, can be Google's first major alternative, at least since the Internet's first boom, when long forgotten search engines like Alta Vista or Yahoo where hype.
The complexity of the underlying query solving algorithm is focused on providing the user not with a list of websites, as Google offers, but with a comprehensive result, with graphs and statistics - if needed, that displays the most accurate information gathered from the most relevant sources. In this way, the user needn't browse random websites but can have the information he requested delivered to him directly. This reminds me of the future Web 3.0 underlying technology of the Semantic Web – where the search engine manages to understand what the user searches for beyond the level of simple keywords.
"Like interacting with an expert, it will understand what you're talking about, do the computation, and then present you with the results", Dr. Wolfram stated during the demonstration held at the Harvard University Berkman Center for Internet and Society. The below screenshot shows an example of a search query solved by Dr. Wolfram's engine, made by editors at ReadWriteWeb who attended a web demonstration:
Thus far, trillions of pieces of information from the science field have been inputed into the system, with some limited amounts of pop culture. Maybe Wolfram Alpha is in fact, one of the first steps towards Web 3.0. Only Google's attitude and response remain to be seen, if the giant will choose to run along with Wolfram Alpha in order to contribute and expand freedom of search and access to information, or find other ways of toppling it over.