I Used Wolfram Alpha (and it helped)

March 24, 2010

About this time last night, I was working on a blog post for Search Engine Land about the major search engines and how much they spend lobbying the government. In looking over the numbers, I had decided that my headline was about the enormous jump in how much Google has spent in the past few years … from $260,000 in 2005 to more than $4 million in 2009.

But what percent is that increase??, I wondered. That would be my headline.

I’m adequate at math, not great. I manually counted up by 260,000s … at 520,000, it’s a 100% increase … at 780,000, it’s a 200% increase … etc. I determined that it was about a 1500% increase.

But what if I’m wrong??!!, I thought.

And then an idea came to me: Wolphram Alpha!! The “computation knowledge engine.” It’s like a calculator on steroids. (Note to my son if he’s reading this: It can be used to help with homework, but not to replace you doing the work yourself.)

So, I went over to WA and tried this query: 4,030,000 is what % of 260,000. And would you look at this …


How perfect is that??!! And compare it to the same query on Google:


I appreciated the irony of using some other search tool to find out exactly how much Google has upped its spending on government lobbying. It gave me my headline: Google’s Lobbying Spend Up 1,500% Since 2005.


  • Reply SearchCap: The Day In Search, March 25, 2010 March 25, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    […] I Used Wolfram Alpha (and it helped), Matt McGee […]

  • Reply Sean March 25, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    cool. I”l use that in the future.

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