Saturday, May 23, 2009

My Student demos ChaCha.. and now MS plans KUMO ... BUT WAIT there is Wolfram Alpha

FD: I am a google user.

I am impressed with the ChaCha Cheater on student cell phone concept.

Meet the Creator!

Walt Mossberg Liked it!

"To use ChaCha, you just dial 800-2chacha (800-224-2242) and state your question. In a few minutes, you’ll get an answer via text message. In one test, I asked ChaCha who was the winning pitcher in the previous night’s Red Sox victory against the Yankees. In a few minutes, I received a text message with the correct answer: Daisuke Matsuzaka.
ChaCha requires no registration and works on any cellphone carrier. It needs no special codes or key words. You just state your question as if you were asking a friend. If you prefer to type your question, you can text it to “ChaCha,” or 242242. Though ChaCha itself charges no fees, your phone carrier may charge for the minutes you use, or for the text messages.
The service works by routing your questions to one of 10,000 hired “guides” — students, stay-at-home parents, retirees and others — who look up the questions on the Web and reply. They get paid 20 cents per answer." - Walt Mossberg

However, I am not an authority on Search Engines... I was impressed with "What's It's" in 1976 (might have been called "Whadizzit?"... you would type "What's Adam's Wife" and that would retrieve "EVE." It was cute, but it failed in sales.

For years, there has been little competition in the business of enabling people to find out things on the web: Google led and a bunch of its would-be rivals lagged behind. Suddenly, however, internet search is becoming lively again.

Next week, Microsoft will launch its latest effort to catch up with Google – a refreshed search engine codenamed Kumo. Meanwhile Yahoo has just shown off its own efforts to help people extract data from the internet’s millions of web pages, rather than wade through it link by link.
All this might be yawn-inducing – Microsoft and Yahoo have tried and failed to catch up with Google before – but for two things.

One is that Google, despite its 64 per cent share of search, according to the comScore research group, knows there is a gulf between what it provides and what many people want and is experimenting with making its search engine perform better.

The second is that Google faces a new challenge from an Illinois-based software group founded by Stephen Wolfram, a British scientist. This week, Wolfram Research launched Wolfram Alpha, a web application that resembles a search engine but aspires to be a digital oracle.
Wolfram Alpha will never rival Google as an entry point to the web because it serves up information from a private database, rather than the internet as a whole. But it is an intellectual slap in the face to Google because it approaches the quest for knowledge in another way.

At Wolfram Research, the company that publishes the powerful Mathematica software, they have a different approach to finding answers on a new website they've just introduced."Wolfram Alpha is a computational knowledge engine," says Eric Weisstein. He's a senior researcher at Wolfram who has been working on their latest project,

"It's not a search engine, but rather a way to search kind of the computational universe. So it knows all about facts, figures, and it can do sorts of queries that traditional search engines have difficulty with."Unlike conventional search engines, Wolfram Alpha returns answers from its own database, which has been reviewed for accuracy."So we have gone out and found the best data sources available and collected it all together and done various analyses on it to try to ensure that it's as correct and complete as possible. In addition to doing that, though, in many cases we will also give you links to external sources on the Web where you could, in fact, explore and find other bits of information and further reading."

New search engine WolframAlpha launched this weekend to high praise and traffic?as well as the obligatory comparisons to Google (NSDQ: GOOG). But it's not the first new search engine to surge coming out of the gate. Here's what eventually happened to some of the others.
Cuil raised funds at an astonishing $200 million valuation, and launched in August.

Another search engine,, hasn't even been that lucky. Search "" in WolframAlpha and there's no chart at all. That's perhaps because Wikia announced it would close the search engine in late March. ( shows that traffic fell sharply after its June relaunch.)

Powerset hoped that its natural-language technology could create a new search engine that would let users type queries "in plain English, rather than using keywords," according to a 2007 New York Times article. The startup raised $12.5 million but it only got around to launching a search engine that sifts through Wikipedia pages. Instead, it sold itself to Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) for $100 million. raised $16 million in 2007, offering the ability to communicate with a human guide while searching. The company switched strategies in early 2008, moving into the mobile search space.

And then there's (NSDQ: AMZN) which launched a new version of its search engine in 2004, letting people personalize searches. The WSJ said at the time that it was "one of the strongest signs that it hopes to compete with the likes of Google Inc. and Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) Inc." But Amazon scaled back the search engine in 2006 and it now exists mainly as a way to search for products. is arguably somewhat different. It's not trying to offer a comprehensive way to search the web, but rather aims to answer "factual queries." Search your name, for instance, and chances are WolframAlpha will give you nothing at all, or will try to compare two cities (in my case, Joseph, Oregon, and Tartaro, Bulacan, Philippines). But while its data-driven results give it a niche, they also limit its audience.

Many of those who try these out will find them neat, but what's more inportant... will they really have a need to return. Back to my Google searches....

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