knowledge graph 001 Google rolls out Knowledge Graph feature

Google is rolling out an encyclopedia-like feature helping to eliminate the amount of time users need to spend finding information, and making Google searches less ambiguous.

Google is rolling out an encyclopedia-like feature helping to eliminate the amount of time users need to spend finding information, and making Google searches less ambiguous.

The feature has been compared to an encyclopedia. Google calls it "knowledge graph". The idea is to display immediate information relevant to a user’s searches in a box at the side of Google's standard search results. For example, somebody googling C.S Lewis will immediately see a biographical blurb at the side, displaying information and facts about the 20th century author and Christian apologist.

More ambiguous queries, such as "Beethoven" will induce a list of possible meanings. The query could refer to Ludwig van Beethoven, the 19th century composer. It could also refer, however, to 'Beethoven', an American film series. Knowledge Graph will give users the option to see search results about only one, moving him from a nebulous string of unrelated information, to a more specific and useful list of results.

knowledge graph 001 Google rolls out Knowledge Graph feature
Knowledge Graph, example visualization

This new feature is fed with the knowledge that Google has accumulated from dozens of online sources, including Wikipedia, CIA World Factbook, and Google books. Google notes that, with access to billions of facts, this new feature will be able to provide a broad and coherent perspective on user queries. Google will customize the facts displayed on a certain search based on previous searches, providing more relevant results for individual users.

Google views this as the biggest feature they have launched in years.  Ben Gomes, Google Fellow and vice president of the company's search group says, "To put this into perspective, one of the biggest launches in the past was Universal Search. The Knowledge Graph features affect a larger fraction of queries than Universal Search. Users will see these features more often than they see Google Maps in Google Search."

The ability to see relevant information to a topic without even clicking on websites will certainly be a big convenience to users. The jury is still out, however, on exactly how they will react to the new feature. Compared to other Google modifications such as instant search, Knowledge Graph is actually very unobtrusive. It does its job without interfering with regular user search functionality.

Websites are the ones who are likely to dislike this feature. If users can get the information they need without visiting specific websites, then sites that used to get a lot of traffic for certain queries may receive significantly less exposure than before. The feature may also attract antitrust regulators, some of whom are already wary of Google's practices.

In any case, searching with Google is becoming a more and more seamless process. Starting with Instant Search, googling is becoming an almost "clickless" procedure. This will not only make searching with Google more easy, but will improve the voice search feature of Android phones, and the possible Google Glasses of the future.

Source: huffingtonpost.com