My dad was an Oldsmobile man. He never bought any other brand. And if he ever had to ride in (or heaven forbid, actually drive) any thing other than an Olds, he’d grumble and complain. As he got older, we’d ask him to drive our Honda just to hear the rants.

But I’m beginning to understand his pain.

I’m a Google guy. I love the search results. I love the ease. I love the little gadgets I can add on.

And now I’m finding that perhaps there are other tools I should be using and so now there’s a bit of grumbling.

But I am grumbling less and less because I’m starting to really like a newer search tool called Wolfram|Alpha. The goal of Wolfram|Alpha is simple:

Wolfram|Alpha’s long-term goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone. We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything. Our goal is to build on the achievements of science and other systematizations of knowledge to provide a single source that can be relied on by everyone for definitive answers to factual queries.

It provides a different way to search and organize information that I’m still getting comfortable using. But the results are very cool. If you or your kids are looking for basic information and for ways to compare that information, you need to to try Wolfram|Alpha.

The creators have thrown together some examples. By using some of their sample searches, you’ll start to see the power of the tool.

My example is pretty simple. Say I want to learn more about the Battle of Hastings. So I type in “Battle of Hastings.”

battle of hastings

Clicking in the graph gives me additional data.

hastings data

I can now click on William the Conqueror to get data on him.


I love this kind of stuff!

Wolfram|Alpha can do all kinds of things.

Type in “Norway, Sweden, Finland” to get side by side country comparisons. Type in “Founding of Carthage, Trojan War” to get a timeline of events. Type in “GDP per capita, United States/Norway” and get that data. The tool is great for finding and displaying basic kinds of information but it’s used best to organize that data. Each search result starts with basic stuff and embeds links to more info such as satellite images, more detailed graphs and unit conversions.

It does take some getting used to. You’ll need to experiment a bit with what you type in the search box. You’ll need to shift a bit in your thinking if you’re used to using Google. Let your kids play with it and experiment.

So . . . nothing wrong with Google or Dad’s Oldsmobile. But there are other things out there. Don’t be afraid to get in the Honda and take a test drive!