WolframAlpha is a new search engine, or “computational knowledge engine” from Wolfram Research, creators of mathematical, technical and scientific software.
Unlike Google and other traditional search engines, WolframAlpha doesn’t direct you to web pages on which you might find information on a subject, but instead attempts to provide the information directly in a condensed display. The intention is to provide the ability to ask a question and receive an immediate answer.
In its nascent form the engine is limited in scope and, unsurprisingly given the background of the developer, focused largely on mathematical, scientific and technical information.
However, I found the concept and its potential interesting, and immediately found at least two uses of possible interest to artists and art lovers.
One is the ability to type in the names of two or more artists, in the case above, top, I’ve entered Leonado da Vinci and Michelangelo, and immediately get a short comparison of information such as full name, place and date of birth, ect.; but most of relevance to those interested in art history, a comparison of the two artist’s lifetimes on the timeline of art history.
The other built-in feature I found is the ability to enter color names and get a return with color swatches, designation values in different color systems, and related or complimentary colors.
These features are obviously of limited use at the moment; but the possibilities are tantalizing, and I think this kind of “knowledge engine” will become a tremendous resource, across all fields of endeavor, in the near future.