This article is a nice write-up and actually has a couple links to other write-ups but in the interest of redundancy, I'll add my own. This is not a Google killer. They are different. Ask Google "coastline of England"and it'll return web pages that talk about the coastline of England. Ask W/A (sorry, just not going to type out 'Wolfram/Alpha' every time) that question and it will actually try to compute the distance of that coastline. Easy right? Its the difference between search and computation.
The demos are fairly amazing in terms of the reults returned in terms of data display but there are some issues. The biggest one is that it currently runs on "Curated Data" - that is data sets that have been scrubbed specifically for the system. As I understand it, this process is partially automated and partially human-powered - that can present scaling issues. That doesn't bother me so much though because I really see this as an enterprise tool.
So I work in Defense Acquisition - as you can imagine - our projects can generate HUGE amounts of data. Having access to a computational engine that would be able to troll that data and deliver answers not just search results could be ridiculously powerful. The bigger your data sets, the more powerful W/A becomes.
My question(s) then is - what impact(s) do you see this having on or field?
We all know how Google has impacted our learners (its their main tool for learning), what kind of impact will W/A have?
Will wee need to teach different skills for dealing with an engine that computes versus searches?
What kind of uses will be able to put this capability to inside our enterprise in support of our users?
So, sheesh, I don't even know where to start. I will say this - my short take on virtual worlds and social media based on the interactions I've had over the past month is that #1 SoMe is well on its way to enterprise mainstream and #2 there is sufficient heat around virtual worlds for the enterprise that I believe we'll see a big uptick in exploration and adoption over the next 12-24 months.
I will also bang this old drum on both these items - that if we FAIL to think differently about the learning opportunities that we can dedsign using SoMe and virtual worlds then we would be outright stupid to expect any kind of enhanced ROI from those activities.
OK...just so you know, while I've been quiet on the bloggin front, I have been pinging away on the Twitter front. You can always catch me here.
"The hallmark of revolution is that the goals of the revolutionaries cannot be contained by the institutional structure of the society they live in. As a result, either the revolutionaries are put down, or some of those institutions are transmogrified, replaced, or simply destroyed. We are plainly witnessing a restructuring of the music and newspaper businesses, but their suffering isn’t unique, it’s prophetic."