Joe Surely Wolfram Alpha is a competitor to something like Yahoo Answers rather than Google?May 29, 2009 12:02 am
Adam Boulton From the wolfram alpha FAQs looks like they are considering a few options:
Is Wolfram|Alpha free to use?
Does Wolfram|Alpha accept advertising?
At present, Wolfram|Alpha is concentrating on major corporate sponsorships. In the future, there may be opportunities for more targeted advertising. Contact us for information.
What is Wolfram|Alpha's business model?
Wolfram|Alpha represents the first deployment of a new kind of computing technology. Many different businesses will develop from Wolfram|Alpha and its technology.
May I build a business based on Wolfram|Alpha?
There are many potential opportunities, particularly around the Wolfram|Alpha API, distribution channels, and data curation. We intend to encourage the best possible business ecosystem around Wolfram|Alpha.
Is Wolfram|Alpha seeking partners?
Yes, particularly in relation to distribution and complementary content and services. Please contact us for details on business proposals.
May 21, 2009 02:33 pm
Jonathan Stewart @adam Monetisation of Wolfram is interesting, but as it's still in its infancy I think they've still got a while to work on it - after all, Google still haven't cracked the very same issue with Youtube yet.
Perhaps it will go down the same route as the proposed Twitter business model - paid subscriptions for usage. It would have to prove it's worth as an invaluable tool to the general public first though.May 20, 2009 06:31 pm
Daniel I have run into problems trying to use Google for my calculus homework sometimes, so I'm excited by the potential of Wolfram. Also, as a non-technical person who has trouble remembering simple things like the periodic table, it's a handy reference when I need to know something sciencey and relatively obscure (for example, when I'm writing about the chemical composition of a certain type of sand, which has happened).
One problem I see with it in its current incarnation is the apparent lack of direct attribution. There's a sources page, but not a source on a specific data result. This can be problematic in cases like Ars Technica's:
“Data on my search result page indicated that, in 2003, global human activity led to 27 Gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions. But it also indicated that, in 2000, the US produced 40 Gigatons during cement production alone. One of these has got to be wrong, and Alpha gives you absolutely no way of finding out which …” (as quoted at newsy.com)
May 20, 2009 04:24 pm
Adam Boulton One of the things I think is interesting, is the potential commercialization of the service and some of the IP and ethical issues that might arise. With google their commericlization is not on the information itself but on the ability to find it, the content producers (i.e. websites in their search index) maintain ownership and control over the content. And because of this they can make money from their sites i.e. by placing ads or selling products.
Where as with Wolfram Alpha they are actually showing you the information and not referencing sources, so they are making money on the information itself. This may not be a problem but I think it depends on what data source Wolfram Alpha is using. For example let’s say Wolfram Alpha used Wikipedia as a data source and used the information to answer search queries from users. Fine, but then what if alongside the answers to these queries WA showed advertising? Wolfram would then be making money from the Wikipedia foundation’s information and the millions of hours of work the community has spent creating Wikipedia. Is the service provided by Wolfram Alpha sufficiently advanced that it would provide enough additional value to warrant advertising, or is it just making a easy buck? For example could the answers it gives be found from simply reading an article on Wikipedia? Or does it provide some kind of extra interpretation generated from crunching multiple articles and data sources?
Personally I think if Wolfram Alpha is going to be more than just a answer engine for lazy searchers it needs to build up its academic authority. Before it can be used by academics it will need to be able to be referenced so that each answer it gives can be retrieved in the future, this could easily be achieved by each answer containing a unique reference URL that would be available indefinitely.
There is a real need for easy to use and easy to reference academic tool that carries sufficient authority to be used in a student’s study or even to appear in research papers. Wikipedia struggles here, not because of the quality of information but because of the functionality that makes the site so successful, the ability for anyone to edit an article. And therefore the possibility that any piece of information it contains has been adjusted since it was referenced. Wolfram Alpha’s controlled and secured database of information may just be the solution.
May 20, 2009 11:47 am
Nice post Jonny, i've also done a bit of reading up on it and thought i'd share my findings.
Paul Doleman (CTO, iCrossing) has to say on the subject over at econsultancy.
Here's what they quote their data set to be...many have mentioned this is far too limited at the moment...
'10+ trillion of pieces of data, 50,000+ types of algorithms and models, and linguistic capabilities for 1000+ domains'
Stan Schroeder over at Mashable has written an interesting post; Five Things Wolfram Alpha Does Better (And Vastly Different) Than Google
May 20, 2009 10:14 am
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