“Q: What is the meaning of life?A: The Meaning of Life is the title of a 1983 Monty Python film. Alternatively, according to Douglas Adams in the HH’s Guide to the Galaxy, it is 42.”
This is the answer given by 82ask, a mobile text knowledge service. You can text your question (a £1 a go) via your mobile (from any one of the 183 GSM countries the company serves) to a text number and it sends you back an answer…apparently within minutes (as an example on the website, the answer to the question: ‘How tall are smurfs?’ was returned in 2 minutes.).
According to a BBC article, the service works by having humans doing your surfing (not smurfing) on your behalf, plus building a database of questions and answers for automated responses. If they don’t know the answer, you don’t get charged. (It is not clear what happens if there is a dispute…e.g. I’m thinking of asking: “What number am I thinking of?”…even if they guessed correctly, how could they prove it?).
I wonder when/if the phone operators will launch their own ‘Pay-As-You-Know’ service…?