A week ago, the new search engine WolframAlpha has been launched. At first it was being compared to the search engine we all know, namely Google. It took bloggers, news editors and the rest of the world some time to understand that this is no search engine at all. WolframAlpha wants to become the Computational Knowledge Engine we all will be using. It is more like the Encarta application we older guys used in times when viewing a movie in poststamp-format used to be fun.
In fact, WolframAlpha has done a wonderful job. Enter any question you like and it will present nice formatted answers, illustrated with diagrams and links to sources for further research. It is interesting to see how several sources are combined and presented very clearly.
For all of us who are in the business of Data Quality, Names and Addresses, it is surprising to see you can enter about any given (first) name and you will get realistic numbers about occurrences of the name. As far as I have seen it is now solely based on data from the US, but it is obvious to see where this is headed. If WolframAlpha really takes off, it is just a matter of time before they have all sources for names of the world put into their system.
At least I know now that about 800 boys are born each year in the US with the same name as me. And whenever I have to raise my hand when my name is called, about 60.000 other US citizens will raise their hand too. I am still figuring out what my life expectation will be, because the age distribution graph is a little hard for me to digest. And why did Microsoft discontinue Encarta several weeks ago and launched their fourth or fifth attempt of their search engine this week? Is it just a coincendence ? By the way, have you already “BINGed” somebody?