A few days ago I stumbled across a new search engine that should be released some time this weekend (quite possibly tonight) which will cause a bit of a paradigm shift in how we use the internet. WolframAlpha will not be a direct competitor to Google (at least not until Google Squared launches) as it is intended more as a statistics engine. Using natural language (carefully) one can bring up statistics, graphs, and calculations on just about anything (the current amount of data available may not be overly extensive, but it will surely improve quickly). Some examples are popularity of names at various points in time and comparing stock. TechRepublic had a screenshot tour a few weeks back showing off some of the neat things that Alpha is able to do. I am a bit of a statistics geek and seeing all these custom generated graphs all available at the tips of my fingers in an instant is something that has got me pretty excited. Hopefully I will get a chance to dive into some statistics later tonight.
UPDATE: Alpha is now live, however it is quite slow. My first search wasn’t too bad, but my second one was halted with an error message “I can’t do that Dave” stating that their servers are under maximum load. While I appreciate the humour, I look forward to the expansion of their servers to handle the load they are seeing.