WolframAlpha is a new search engine that launched last week to much fanfare.

It’s not a search engine like Google – it doesn’t return pages and pages of details, instead it provides you with detailed answers to questions you ask it.

Want to do complex math? No problem, after all Wolfram also developed Mathematica. Want to know the GDP of Canada compared to that of Ireland? It’s got an answer. Want to know the weather on the day you were born? It knows that. Want to sequence DNA? It can do that too.

It also knows a bit about your college’s website. It will tell you where it’s hosted, some basic stats (gathered from sources like Alexa, I’d wager) and some stats about your home page.

My favorite was the beautiful map it made of elements on my college’s homepage:


Click for a larger version.

I don’t know if you’ll learn anything out about your site that you didn’t already know, but you should at least check the validity of the information. That’s part of the fun of managing a college’s website, a decent amount of our time is spent making sure everyone else has the right information.

This video from Tim Ferriss and Kevin Rose is interesting for a lot of reasons – but I think there are some things we can take away from it in higher education.

In particular, I like the idea of testing product names via Google AdWords. In the video, Ferriss talks about the process he used to name his book, The 4-Hour Workweek. He would buy AdWords placements for many different titles and see which one got the best click-through rates. The ads went to blank pages and he got great market data for a relatively small amount of money.

Might be an interesting thing to try when we’re thinking about marketing slogans and branding in higher ed.

The video also has interesting information about angel investing and advising new and small businesses. If you’re interested in how some pretty visible people look at investing, you may learn a thing or two.