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May 17, 2012, 8:01 am UTC
Google has made drastic enhancements to search results using what it calls a “Knowledge Graph". Google Knowledge Graph is the search giant's latest attempt to provide direct answers in its results instead of just sending people elsewhere.
In what it bills as one of its biggest launches in years, Google is leveraging its "Knowledge Graph," a database of 500 million people, places and things that Google has compiled over two years from sources such as Wikipedia, CIA World Factbook, Freebase and Google Books, to better connect vague keywords to real topics, summarize facts about the subject one is searching, and inject serendipity into search results. Google notes that by connecting billions of disparate points of data, its search results can present users with a more coherent narrative, thus providing a better understanding of the relationships between facts.
Now, when a user searches for an "object" in its database - such as the "Taj Mahal," "Mona Lisa," or "Leonardo da Vinci," Google's search results will try to identify the proper context for the search, identify key facts about it, and then lead onto related topics for further discovery.
"We've always believed that the perfect search engine should understand exactly what you mean and give you back exactly what you want, Amit Singhal, the senior vice president of engineering for Google, wrote in a . "And we can now sometimes help answer your next question before you've asked it, because the facts we show are informed by what other people have searched for.
Singhal said the new Knowledge Graph is a step towards what it called the next generation search, which taps into the "collective intelligence of the Web".
Much like its existing Google Maps feature which displays detailed information about a business to the right of relevant links, Google's latest upgrade will deliver a brief profile of the queried subject, from an author's birthplace to a band's discography.
The new look for Google's search results will roll out over the next few weeks to U.S. English users, Google said. Google also said that the Knowledge Graph will roll out to Android 2.2+ phones and tablets, as well as Apple iPhones running iOS 4 and above.
Google, of course, is built on top of the open Web of sites and pages. That's where Google gets its data and it's also the information economy that Google supports. Knowledge Graph provides data to users without requiring them to go to the sites that the data may come from. One might deduce that Knowledge Graph would end up hurting sites by stealing traffic from them. It’ll be interesting to see how this new feature will influence how people search and what links they click on.
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