In May 2012 Google announced the launch of Knowledge Graph, a database of more than 500 million real-world people, places and things with 3.5 billion attributes and connections among them. On 8 August it was reported that Google are rolling out the Knowledge Graph globally. The official Google Blog announced that “starting today [Wednesday 8 August], you’ll see Knowledge Graph results across every English-speaking country in the world. If you’re in Australia and search for [chiefs], you’ll get the rugby team—its players, results and history“.

The blog post explains that:

We’ll also use this intelligence to help you find the right result more quickly when your search may have different meanings. For example, if you search for [rio], you might be interested in the Brazilian city, the recent animated movie or the casino in Vegas. Thanks to the Knowledge Graph, we can now give you these different suggestions of real-world entities in the search box as you type:

and goes on to describe how:

the best answer to your question is not always a single entity, but a list or group of connected things. It’s quite challenging to pull these lists automatically from the web. But we’re now beginning to do just that. So when you search for [california lighthouses], [hurricanes in 2008] or [famous female astronomers], we’ll show you a list of these things across the top of the page. And by combining our Knowledge Graph with the collective wisdom of the web, we can even provide more subjective lists like [best action movies of the 2000s] or [things to do in paris]. If you click on an item, you can then explore the result more deeply on the web.

In addition Google have announced a limited trial of a service for searching email and will shortly be rolling out their voice search facility, currently available on Android devices, to iPhones and iPads – clearly responding to Apple’s Siri service.

Although such developments will clearly be of interest to general web users, in an educational context I am particularly interested in the implications of Knowledge Graph for finding research papers, research data, etc. Google’s blog post entitled “Introducing the Knowledge Graph: things, not strings” described how the Knowledge Graph “currently contains more than 500 million objects, as well as more than 3.5 billion facts about and relationships between these different objects. And it’s tuned based on what people search for, and what we find out on the web.” This will include research items, including items held in institutional repositories and may be in a position to exploit the relationships between such items such as citations.

This does seem to be a very interesting development. A video summary which describes how to explore lists and collections with Google search is available on YouTube and is embedded below.

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