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It’s all in the name! May 20, 2009

Posted by BCME UK in Social media.

By Eyndia

It’s really exciting to see that there is a new ‘computational search engine’ has been launched on this week called Wolfram Alpha, the brainchild of Dr. Stephen Wolfram and proof that Brits can also build great, global technology, but where it would seem we all down is in our modesty.

The sites point of difference is that unlike Google, Wolfram Alpha is a ‘natural’ search engine. You ask a specific question and the engine will search their own vast database to aim to return you a single search result with the right answer – think 118 118 over the web.

At its outset I can already see a few challenges the engine could face in the market:

Firstly, is it really that wise to challenge Google? Google is a global phenomenon; it is a way of life. It has replaced the world ‘search’ in most of the English speaking world and more so has revolutionised the way we use the web. Is it really the best idea to come to market taking on the likes of Google and Yahoo!?

Secondly – Wolfram Alpha, really? It doesn’t sound so much like the name of a search engine as much as it does a planet in the Delta Quadrant of the new Star Trek film. ‘To boldly go where no search engine has gone before’ could be a great strapline! The websites creator and strategic directors desire to have his surname etched into web history seems a little narcissistic at best.

As far as names go would you use a search engine you know or one yet to proved and/or named properly?

Lastly, and keeping in mind my last question to you, enter Google Squared (much cooler name!). A computational search, like Wolfram Alpha, it allows you to enter a question and receive the answers on a grid interface that allows you to select relevant information and disregard the rest. It will even give you the links to the sites, powered by Google.

I am all for buying British, but if Wolfram Alpha is going to succeed I think it will need to iron out faults early to make it a sleek, natural search that gives the users the right results or at least allows them a selection of alternatives. Google has trained us to want choice and was at the forefront of meeting the demand, although Wolfram Alpha would streamline this, is it really what we are after? And then of course, there’s that name…. 

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