Filed under: Search, web 2.0, Education
When I was a kid and used to fantasize about what the future is going to be like, I didn't envision a Google-like search engine. If anything, I thought the future would hold something more along the lines of Wolfram Alpha – an omniscient search box that would slice and dice numbers and facts in all sorts of crazy ways, and spit out a bunch of cool graphs.
And now, Wolfram Alpha added one more key data source to its growing arsenal: U.S. Department of Commerce reports about retail sales in the States.
This is significant, because there's so much hype about “the economy” and how it's all crashing and burning — or how it isn't. And really, the best antidote for hype is data. With Wolfram Alpha making this data so compelling and accessible, there's really no reason not to find out for yourself how the US economy is doing. It's also smart enough to seasonally adjust the data, to compensate for spikes and drops that are due to purchasing habits typical to that time of year rather than actual market anomalies.
Some of the queries you can chart:
Seasonally adjusted retail sales jewelry stores vs US unemployment (Their idea, not mine)
Seasonally adjusted retail sales vs US military spending – This one doesn't give you a graph, but is still quite interesting.
April 2010 retail sales computers vs April 2010 retail sales – To see how large is the computing industry's direct role in US economy.
Bottom line: Wolfram Alpha keeps adding more and more data sources – we just need to figure out how to use them.
Wolfram Alpha now processing U.S. retail sales data
Fuente: Download Squad