Last week, a brilliant web service has been released which has found its niche by redefining the rules a bit and hence maybe able to thrive as a much needed complement to Google. Wolfram Alpha is not quite a search engine, at least in the way that we have come to understand the term and in that may lie the roots to its success in the realm which has eluded others.
Wolframalfa calls itself a computational search engine and the first thing to understand about it is that it does not do phrase searches of weighed and huge database like search engines. So keying in a phrase hoping to find a document hit for it somewhere on the net would not succeed in it. The best parallel is what was attempted to do by one of the oldest ‘search engines’ in the web, Ask Jeeves (same as today’s ask?) which attempted to do natural language processing on the questions which were put into it. […]