We blogged about the release of Wolfram Alpha a couple of weeks back, and discussed how it was “cool” but not ready for legal research topics yet. Yesterday, Google Labs released its new semantic search tool called Google Squared to the public. I thought I’d test some of the same legal search terms that we tried with Wolfram Alpha, to see how G2 would do. My initial reaction is that G2 does a lot better than Wolfram Alpha, but probably still something you wouldn’t want to hang your legal hat on.
Here are the terms, and you can click to see the results:
- Number of lawsuits filed against Exxon
- Patents held by IBM
- General Counsel of Wal-Mart
- Chairman of Skadden Arps
The first thing that popped out at me on these searches was the fact that the order in which you placed the words mattered. We had to change some of the order of the words within the search to get better results. Again, these results weren’t the ultimate answers we were looking for, but at least we were able to get something back and we could then start manipulating our search from there. With Wolfram Alpha, we just could never get that far.
I also plugged in some other search terms that I found on the Law Libraries Ning site. Scott Frey asked Wolfram Alpha about “Justice of the US Supreme Court” and got information on Justice, Illinois, Supreme, Louisiana, and Court, Bern — not exactly what Scott was looking for.
I tried the same search with G2 and got a much better result. It actually gave me names, pictures, dates of birth, and more on actual US Supreme Court Justices.
That is a much better result than what we were getting with Wolfram Alpha.
Semantic search engines, like Google Squared, still have a way to go before being used as a viable legal research tool. In fact, most researchers would say that the original Google is a better legal research tool than any of the new semantic resources.
Go out and give Google Squared a try with your legal (or non-legal) terms and let all of us know what you think of G2.