Sunday, April 17, 2011

Google is my WolframAlpha

If you do not know what WolframAlpha is, it is – in their own words – a computational knowledge engine. Basically, it is just another search engine, just that you ask questions and it tries to provide an answer. So instead of search results you may get solutions. But for me, my answer engine has always been Google Search.

What actually made me say that is the recent news that the Google search engine is falling in U.S. market share, with Bing eating away most of it. And cited as one of the reasons was the purported success users experience when using Bing or Yahoo (which is now powered by the former). In other words, more people click through search results in these search engines than in Google. That made me really wonder how I’m using Google.

To find evidence of my search patterns, there’s no better place than Google’s very own Web History. Shush privacy advocates shush!

My findings? I use Google to search info without having to click on results. That’s because at times Google will answer the search query itself. The piece of info I’m looking for may also be already quoted in search result texts.

Here are the search queries that I commonly use in Google that requires no clicking of search results:

Money Conversion

Being an online contractor, I get paid in U.S. dollars. From time to time I want to know how much I am already earning by converting the amount to my country’s currency.

google search money conversion

Weather

While there are plugins, widgets or sidebar gadgets that can show you the current weather, I’m not particularly inclined to install them as I don’t really want to be informed every day of the weather. Using Google, I can be informed when I want to.

google search weather

Calculations

Believe it or not, I also use Google to calculate a few operations for me. Although Window’s own Calculator program is handy, I am rather minimalistic and prefers a few programs open. And besides, I don’t have to switch between windows if I use the search engine to compute for me.

google search calculator

Phone Numbers

Google can also fetch phone numbers of services such as fast food delivery, wireless network hotline numbers, and the like.

google search phone numbers

Significant Dates

Say you want to find out the birthdate of Abraham Lincoln. You don’t have to go to Wikipedia to learn about it. You can just type a query in Google and it will find an accurate guess for you.

google search significant dates

Google can also provide release dates of movies and ratings of game reviews.

image

Word Definition

Since English is not my first language, I often have to search the definition of some words to see if I’m using them right. And for the nth time, Google can search the definition for me.

google search word definition

Sometimes Google fails to provide an answer (like definition of the word “money”) although the texts in search results will suffice.

 

You may be thinking why I’m comparing something as sophisticated as WolframAlpha with Google. For one thing, I am well aware that WolframAlpha can solve complicated math problems. However, how often am I pressured under mathematical equations and numbers? Given my field of interest, I actually have more simple questions that Google can sufficiently answer for me.

All I’m saying is, despite Google’s recent fall in market share, it’s not because it’s failing to provide the best results. It must be something else.

I am actually thankful towards Google because most visits to this blog comes from its search results, not Bing or Yahoo.

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