Oh dear, just when I was getting excited about Wolfram Alpha, Google rolls out another ‘new big thing’, Google Squared. Yes, there are similarities between the two and, interestingly, the article in The Australian initially had a heading announcing Google Squared as a challenger to Wolfram Alpha, but then when I checked later, it had changed to Google launches new search tool.
So, what is it? Essentially, the similarity with the afore-mentioned product is that Google Squared takes a best guess at what you’re after and presents the result, not as an endless list of URLs, but as a neat table/spreadsheet with categorised entries. If it’s not exactly what you’re after, then you can refine it by adding columns or rows of your choice. Confused? Blame it on my half-baked explanation and try it yourself.
Initially I tried the search (‘aspirin vs. panadeine’), reported in my last blog post, that yielded no result in Wolfram Alpha. Google Squared also struggled a bit, but improved when I added a column headed ‘medicine’.
More interestingly, though, it did pretty well with ‘distance education technology’, with a helpful range of online resources that included definitions (strong reliance on Wikipedia), journals (such as JALN, Ed Tech Review, Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, JILR) and organisations (nicely including the Commonwealth of Learning).
At this stage I’m loathe to make any fooolish predictions concerning the takeup and/or use of Google Squared, but it would seem that on initial use it lacks the analytical (or, perhaps more precisely, computational) power of Wolfram Alpha. It is thus a different tool (hence the change of title in the Australian?), performing different functions, and perhaps not offering as many challenges to teachers with respect to citation and acknowledgement of courses (see last blog post).
You can find a longer and more considered analysis at Up Close With Google Squared and Some Wolfram Alpha Thoughts.