I have been saying for some time that I think Wolfram Alpha is overhyped. Now that it’s launched, I haven’t seen anything to change that opinion. Mashable is having fun with what they consider Easter eggs, and the demos are impressive, but I still am lacking a use case. Google already does basic math. I can already get basic information about New York City from Wikipedia. What is the added value here?
Now, if it could answer a question like “what is the median income in new york city?” then I can see why I would go there. But it cannot. The same query typed into Google leads me to Wikipedia where the question is answered. So, it’s got good buzz. Wolfram is behind it, it would be hard to imagine that it didn’t have that buzz. Nothing wrong with this–unless I’m wrong (and that rarely happens), this will fall out of the buzz cycle in a few weeks, and fade into the woodwork. Yes, others might have said that about Mathematica, at their own peril. And I certainly wish no ill will to the project. I just don’t see its place in most user’s search process. I also worry a little that the buzz around a new search engine will lead to hype exhaustion–so I worry about crying Wolf.
But let a thousand flowers bloom. If this really is a revolution, I will be entirely happy to be wrong.