Now that Google has released the first results of its new approach that is the semantic Knowledge Graph, we can finally evaluate its usefulness. (On a sidenote, I thought it was odd that KG was only available to registered users in the days immediately following its release. Maybe this was intended to give a slight advantage to those who provide Google with useful information for free every day?)
Now that I’ve had a chance to play with it a bit, I can say that this new functionality is less important for what it is—an intelligent display of information in their Freebase, enriched with elements extracted from the most visited search pages for a given query—than for what it represents: The first official step into the world of Google Semantics.
The Knowledge Graph concept is nice, and it can be a time saver in some situations. For example, when searching for a person or location, often you are indeed looking for the specific type of data that could be displayed by the KG.
But it’s nothing revolutionary. Others (including ourselves), made this years ago, although not on the same web scale for obvious reasons (cost, volume), while Google was arguing that there was no intelligent life beyond the keyword.
It is interesting to note that much of the information present in Freebase is extracted from Wikipedia (more or less automatically) and therefore, Google competitors can easily implement the same functionality.
For me, the real news is this: Semantic technology has finally emerged from its niche, becoming a technology that, in just a few years, will be pervasive. And you can’t avoid it. It’s what we’ve been saying, and doing, for more than 10 years now.