I'm going to hold off on adding to the Wolfram Alpha debate as I've yet to digest it all in the last week or so. But hold on. We might need to pen new articles -- all of us. Microsoft has added its two cents with an upcoming new search engine called Bing (but codenamed Kumo) .
Bing is a combination of Microsoft's Live Search search engine and semantic Web technology (which Microsoft had quietly acquired in Powerset last July, 2008). It is said that Kumo is designed as a "Google killer" in mind. However, not without a cost.
It's been reported that the amount of resources Microsoft had spent on Kumo has caused deep divisions within the vendor's management. Many within the hierarchical monolith are arguing for staying put with the companie's money-making ways rather than spreading it elsewhere on fruitless desire for the holy search grail.
This is important new developments for information professionals - especially librarians - to take note. While the Semantic Web adds structure to Web searches in the backend technology, what users will see in the front end is increased structure such as the search results in the center of the page and a hierarchical organization of concepts or attributes in the left (or right)-hand column. This could be what Bing ultimately looks like.
What this implies is that with so much of the spotlight currently on "practical" social media and Web 2.0 applications, much is happening underneath the surface among the information giants. Google itself is quietly conducting much research into the SemWeb. Who will be the first to achieve Web sainthood? Until last week, we thought it was these guys.