Questions That Cannot Be Answered

Was thinking this morning about my interactions with the web over the last couple of weeks, and how I've been frustrated with not being able to (simply) get answers to relatively straightforward questions from the automated web. This is late 2008, and Google and Google Maps and Wikipedia and Freebase etc. etc. have clearly pushed back the knowledge boundaries here hugely, but at the same time lots of relatively simple questions are as yet largely unanswerable.

By way of qualification, I mean are not answerable in an automated fashion, not that they cannot be answered by asking the humans on the web (invoking the 'lazyweb'). I also don't mean that these questions are impossible to answer given the time and energy to collate the results available - I mean that they are not simply and reasonably trivially answerable, more or less without work on my part. (e.g. "How do I get to address X" was kind of answerable before Google Maps, but they were arguably the ones who made it more-or-less trivial, and thereby really solved the problem.)

So in the interests of helping delineate some remaining frontiers, and challenging ourselves, here's my catalogue of questions from the last couple of weeks:

  • what indoor climbing gyms are there in Sydney?

  • where are the indoor climbing gyms in Sydney (on a map)?

  • what are the closest gyms to my house?

  • how much are the casual rates for adults and children for the gyms near my house?

  • what are the opening hours for the gyms near my house?

  • what shops near my house sell the Nintendo Wii?

  • what shops near my house have the Wii in stock?

  • what shops near my house are selling Wii bundles?

  • what is the pricing for the Wii and Wii bundles from shops near my house?

  • of the shops near my house that sell the Wii, who's open late on Thursdays?

  • of the shops near my house that sell the Wii, what has been the best pricing on bundles over the last 6 months?

  • trading off distance to travel against price, where should I buy a Wii?

  • what are the "specials" at the supermarkets near my house this week?

  • given our grocery shopping habits and the current specials, which supermarket should I shop at this week?

  • I need cereal X - do any of the supermarkets have have it on special?

That's a useful starting set from the last two weeks. Anyone else? What are your recent questions-that-cannot-be-answered? (And if you blog, tag with #qtcba pretty please).