Interview: Free answers to almost anything by texting ChaCha

One of our readers commented in my earlier Google 411 service post that another text-message-based service worth exploring as an alternative to pricey 411 services is the newly launched and free (at the moment) ChaCha. I had a chance today to speak with the company's President, Brad Bostic.

He explained that ChaCha is designed to do far more than simply supply 411 info. It has gathered together a community of 30,000 paid guides with specific areas of expertise, who read and respond to the text queries. Having human beings reading and responding to your questions means that you no longer have to phrase them in Googlespeak in order to get a good answer. And, because the guides are selected for their knowledge rather than "crowdsourced" from a temp pool, Bostic is confident the responses will be more timely and accurate.

The scope of questions that ChaCha handles is unlimited, too. As a test, I had earlier asked my guide, who didn't know who I was, what that vertical groove between the bottom of one's nose and upper lip is called. (I honestly couldn't remember.) She came up with 'philtrum' in less than a minute.