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February 3, 2011 / Christian M.

Search Engine vs. Knowledge Engine

Last night, in my Organization of Information class we discussed finding/retrieval tools.  These types of tools include catalogs, bibliographies, indexes, pathfinders, search engines, etc. Basically it’s any type of tool that enables a user to locate, identify, and select information resources. The part of the discussion that most fascinated me was when the Professor touched on the evolution of online searching.

Everyone is familiar with Google. It is a search engine that detects the links of different websites and compiles a list of results to match the search query. In September 2010, Google Instant was implemented. It is an enhancement that allows the search engine to list results as soon as you start typing. The results list will continue to update as you type, until you finish typing your full query.

Well the Professor also talked about a website I had never heard of called WolframAlpha.  It is a knowledge engine not a search engine. From what I have read, there is a team of researchers that compiles information from various sources. So when you type in a query, your results do not come from the web, they come from WolframAlpha’s knowledge database. The answers are formulated by a computational system.

There are some limitations to the information that can be acquired right now, but as they continue to expand their database, it is their goal  for users of any educational level to ask about any kind of  “factual knowledge.”  I like that there is the option to print out the results page in pdf format. WolframAlpha’s results are considered a primary source, but they also provide a link to a list of other sources. If you are unfamiliar with this website, here are a list of example searches by topic so you can see how it works.

In my  Professor’s  opinion, the WolframAlpha knowledge engine is closer to what librarians do.  What do you think???

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2 Comments

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  1. untitled841 / Feb 9 2011 9:36 pm

    Thanks for sharing this website! I have had a bunch of kids doing school reports on different countries come into the small library I work at and this site will really help. I like the resource information that is available on the bottom of the screen for them to site their sources with.
    I have also heard of this site: http://www.yolink.com/yolink/
    Considered to be safe enough to use in kids classroom and the content is really filtered so you get the meat and taters’ of the subject.
    Often times Google can bombard the researcher with massive amounts of content that is overall worthless, or if there is worthwhile information then it lost in the quantity.
    Thanks again.

  2. LibGirl09 / Feb 10 2011 10:05 am

    You’re welcome! Thanks for reading my blog and sharing the Yolink website. I’ll have to check it out. I agree WolframAlpha is a helpful resource for up-to-date facts for school reports. The website itself can be cited as the primary source (since it is a knowledge database), but it is nice that they include a list of other resources too.

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