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Shadow Wrought's Journal: A Comparison between Google and Wolfram|Alpha 7

Journal by Shadow Wrought
Wolfram|Alpha is now out and they are claiming to be something different than Google. So, since I am looking for ways tog et Xubuntu onto my little eeePC 900 netbook, I figured I'd search for that on both and compare. Wolfram|Alpha certainly isn't Google.

Search Term: installing xubuntu eeepc 900 jaunty

Wolfram|Alpha Result: Wolfram|Alpha isn't sure what to do with your input. Computation timed out.

Google Result: Results 1 - 10 of about 3,630 for installing xubuntu eeepc 900 jaunty. (0.33 seconds)
The top several results were all on point to the query.

Search Term: I want to install xubuntu 9.04 on my eeepc 900

Wolfram|Alpha Result: Wolfram|Alpha isn't sure what to do with your input. Computation timed out.

Google Result: Results 1 - 10 of about 4,030 for I want to install xubuntu 9.04 on my eeepc 900. (0.38 seconds)
The top several results were all on point to the query.

Search Term: xubuntu eeepc 900

Wolfram|Alpha Result: Wolfram|Alpha isn't sure what to do with your input. Computation timed out.

Google Result: Results 1 - 10 of about 50,300 for xubuntu eeepc 900. (0.27 seconds)
The top several results were all on point to the query.

Search Term: eeePC 900

Wolfram|Alpha Result: Wolfram|Alpha isn't sure what to do with your input. Did you mean: guruntum Computation timed out.

Google Result: Results 1 - 10 of about 3,700,000 for eeePC 900. (0.21 seconds)
Listed first are shopping results, follwoed by wikipedia entries, then eeePC user sites, followed by tech blogs. The Asus page is absent from the first page.

Search Term: xubuntu

Wolfram|Alpha Result: Wolfram|Alpha isn't sure what to do with your input. Did you mean: guruntum Computation timed out.

Google Result: Results 1 - 10 of about 2,980,000 for xubuntu. (0.06 seconds)
The first result is xubuntu.org, followed by xubuntu.org/get. The rest of the results on the first page refer to xubuntu, including videos to xubuntu installations.

Having found nothing for me related to Xubuntu or the eeePC 900, let alone the two of them together, I decided to try some self referencing searches since that would at least give some result.

Search Term: wolfram|alpha

Wolfram|Alpha Result: Assuming "wolfram|alpha" is a historical event | Use as an internet domain instead
The rest of the information is presented as a graphic which you have to click on in order to get copyable text:

Wolfram Alpha Released

date | May 15, 2009
cities involved | Champaign,Illinois,United States
countries involved | United States of America
people involved | Stephen Wolfram

There is also a timeline starting at 2000 with Wolfram Alpha Released over 2008. The remainder of the timeline is cutoff.

Google Result: Results 1 - 10 of about 199,000,000 for wolfram|alpha. (0.28 seconds)
The Wolfram|Alpha site is the 4th result. 1 is news results related to Wolfram|Alpha, second is for wolfram.com, and third is for the wolfram.com/mathematica page.

Search Term: google

Wolfram|Alpha Result: Assuming "google" is a financial entity | Use as a word instead
It goes on to give all the financial information of Google (GOOG). It is again given in the form of a graphic on which you need to click to access any plaintext.

Clicking on "a word" option gives this informationas a graphic which you have to click on in order to get copyable text:

google (English word)
google | search the internet (for information) using the Google search engine
(unknown) (first recorded use: 2000 (9 years ago))

Google Result: Results 1 - 10 of about 2,640,000,000 for google. (0.08 seconds)
The first result is news about Google followed by the Google main search page. Then the following Google pages are listed, reader, maps, google.org, groups, image search, labs, and then blog.

The searches at least let me know what Woflram|Alpha's output looks like, but the use of graphics just seems unnecessary and does take at least 3-5 seconds to load. Finally, I decided to try a something different, and it asked it a couple classic questions.

Search Term: what is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Wolfram|Alpha Result: Assuming estimated average cruising airspeed of an unladen African swallow | Use estimated average cruising airspeed of an unladen European swallow instead

estimated average cruising airspeed of an unladen African swallow

there is unfortunately insufficient data to estimate the velocity of an African swallow (even if you specified which of the 47 species of swallow found in Africa you meant) (asked of a general swallow (but not answered) in Monty Python's Holy Grail.)

Google Result: Results 1 - 10 of about 15,200 for what is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?. (0.10 seconds)
The top results all reference information about Monty Python and the Holy Grail, including various YouTube results.

Search Term: what is the meaning of life, the universe, and everything?

Wolfram|Alpha Result: The answers all appear int he graphic again:

answer to life, the universe, and everything
42
(according to Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

Google Result: Results 1 - 10 of about 1,110,000 for what is the meaning of life, the universe, and everything?. (0.15 seconds)
The top answers are from wikipedia, and then go to other sites referring to Douglas Adams and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Well, credit goes to Wolfram|Alpha for the succinct 42 answer, but it doesn't seem designed to actually help you find further information. I guess I'm kind of slow, but I just don't know what the point is. Google isn't trying to find your answer for you, its trying to point you in the right direction. Wolfram|Alpha seems to only be interested in answering your question so if it can't, it gives you no help. If it does, it doesn't give you any further links to otehr sources if you want to try and expand on their answer.

Google is like the grad student who who will never directly tell you what the answer is, but will tell you which book will help. Wolfram|Alpha seems like the freshman who thinks he knows far more than he actually does and can't understand why you'd want anymore information than what he just told you.

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A Comparison between Google and Wolfram|Alpha

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