augur hindsight

i come to bury caesar, not to praise him; the evil that men do lives after them


bunch of cockroaches and computational knowledge engines

“say hello to my little friend!”

the other day i watched again a long time favourite of mine, scarface (1983). actually, my interest in it rekindled after seeing cartman’s memorable performance in erection day.

apart from the tormenting soundtrack, scarface is a brilliantly done downward-spiral classic. another tough guy role for mr pacino, an ageing youngest corleone, with a cuban twist and an interesting macho move (laying an open palm halfway between the genitals and the stomach — the abdomen caress). there is a promise of “the world is yours (to take)”, all sentences starting and/or ending in the f_word, mountains of white powder, mountains of guns, hysteric women, great men fulfilling their dream, overshooting it by far and dying in the process (there seems to be quite a small manoeuvring room in this genre) — but i guess it has a gonzo feeling about it and i like this alternative-noir interpretation of the american dream. it is another adopted member of the huge family of movies showing how the top is a lonely place (and so is the bottom…).

but i digress with this meagre review. the crux of the issue at hand is the grand question: “in all his carrier, exactly how many times had mr pacino played a villain vs a good guy?”. in my optimism i turned to our present time Wilbur Mercer, our messiah, our gypsy sorceress: the search engine. research these days consists of feeding the research subject into google and looking at the first 6 results. so after 4 minutes of research, i have concluded that nobody has done such an analysis so far (or published it without proper SEO). i am definitely not going to do it either of course, but it brings up the interesting issue of how people’s needs and requirements of a search engine and its capabilities are shifting.

perhaps the WolframAlpha will give an interesting input into this debate as it will try to be what google is not really at the moment. it is not a search engine in the traditional sense of the word, but a “computational knowledge engine”. that is a beautiful name, and it shows that the proud father is a well-respected mathematician. and not just that: even before its launch it beat the (now officially) verbalized search engine giant in what it single-handedly established — the beta game. WolframAlpha might be beta (or even alpha) software at the moment, but it will stay “wolfram-alpha” forever. α is the new β™.

seems like it will be the perfect tool for exactly these grand questions of mine. a whole new era of searching will dawn upon the unsuspecting humankind, when answers to hitherto unanswerable penultimate questions like “were there more rocky or rambo movies?”, “how many lawsuits has microsoft won and lost?”, “who shot JFK (but really)?”, “6 × 7”, and “is this thing on?” will not be found but computed by this magnificent engine and output in neat, aesthetically pleasing, and hopefully tweakable colours of pages and pages of tables and graphs and lists — finally doing away with our sweaty, backbreaking, keyword based search flounderings of yesteryear.

“Tony, everythin go okay?”
“yeah, everythin is roses.”