There have been two very interesting developments in Search over the last little while.
This first is the launch of Wolfram Alpha – the numbers-focused search engine that much like Peter Falk’s “Columbo” is only interested in “just the facts, ma’am.” Wolfram delivers objective facts, calculates the solution to equations and quite possibly can balance your chequebook. It’s a digital version of that skinny kid with the glasses and the pocket-protector who spends recess solving quadratic equations.
The second is the slightly less hyped (but infinitely more exciting) Aardvark, the social search engine that looks to fill the gap in the search market when it comes to value-rich search results.
You see, if you ask Google for topical information on a subject it can help you. If you ask Wolfram for an answer to a quantitative question it’s can supply it. But neither can tell you with any surety where to find the best sushi restaurant in town or the name of that guy in the show with the girl who looks like Julia Roberts but isn’t (the guy. Not the girl).
Essentially, when you ask Aardvark a question, it runs through your social network to find someone who can answer your question..in real time! The idea is that you’ll be receiving answers to questions from people you can trust. No ads, no sponsored results… because it’s all algorithm based – so the search engine takes into account your friends’ interests and experiences before returning a result. It’s rather ambitious and a huge development in search. And if you can’t trust your friends, who can you trust?
Is this the end of Google? Nope, but while Varking and Ramming may never make it into the global zeitgeist, it’s nice to know we have options.