Last week, Google introduced the Knowledge Graph. According to Amit Singhal, Google’s SVP of Engineering, “The Knowledge Graph enables you to search for things, people or places that Google knows about – landmarks, celebrities, cities, sports teams, buildings, geographical features, movies, celestial objects, works of art and more – and instantly get information that’s relevant to your query.”
The announcement included a video, “Introducing the Knowledge Graph,” which gives a deeper dive into the details and technology, in the words of people who've worked on this project.
My first reaction was: The Knowledge Graph is the biggest change to the way that people can discover videos since Google announced its critical first steps toward a universal search model back on May 16, 2007. But I wasn’t able to give it a try until the weekend.
Now, Google says, “We’re rolling this feature out to google.com users over the next few days.” So, I was willing to cut Google a little slack if their “huge collection of the people, places and things in the world and how they're connected to one another” was still a work in progress.
Since I’d recently written about Demand Media, I logged into my Google account and searched for that term. And I discovered bupkis – beyond the usual search engine results that I’d seen before the Knowledge Graph had been announced.
Now, 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. But Demand Media isn’t on the list yet – despite ranking #18 in the comScore Top 50 Properties in March 2012 with 63.7 million unique visitors. Maybe Google doesn’t believe that “corporations are people.”
Then, I searched for Charlie bit my finger and I saw the Knowledge Graph for the first time. The summary from Wikipedia read, “‘Charlie Bit My Finger – Again!’, more simply known as Charlie Bit My Finger or Charlie Bit Me, is a 2007 Internet viral video famous for formerly being the most viewed YouTube video of all time.”
Okay, so I had come up empty-handed with my first search but hit pay dirt with the second. So, I went to YouTube Charts and started working my way down the list of Popular Channels.
I searched for Ray William Johnson and didn’t see a Knowledge Graph. Then, I searched for nigahiga and we had another winner! The Knowledge Graph summary from Wikipedia read, “Nigahiga. Since relocating to Las Vegas to study filmmaking at UNLV, Higa's videos are either solo efforts or videos with other people such as KevJumba. They are known for their YouTube comedy videos, which have been viewed over 1.1 billion times.”
There were no Knowledge Graphs for smosh or machinima. But, there were Knowledge Graphs for freddiew and Shane Dawson.
For freddiew, the summary from Wikipedia said, “Freddie Wong is an American filmmaker, musician, VFX technician and e-Sports player. He maintains two popular YouTube channels, "freddiew" and "freddiew2″. He is the older brother of fellow YouTuber Jimmy Wong.”
For Shane Dawson, the summary from Wikipedia said, “Shane Dawson is an American YouTube actor, comedian, and musician. Dawson is known for making comedy videos featuring many recurring characters, impersonations, and spoofs of popular music videos and television shows.”
When I searched for collegehumor, I saw white space on the right-hand side of Google’s SERP. But, when I searched for annoying orange, the summary from Wikipedia told me, “The Annoying Orange is an American comedy web series created by Dane Boedigheimer in 2009. It stars Boedigheimer as an anthropomorphic orange who annoys other fruits, vegetables, and various other objects by using crude-humored jokes.”
I searched for Epic Meal Time and saw nothing out of the ordinary. But I searched for KevJumba and was told by Wikipedia that “Kevin Wu; is a Taiwanese American comedian and YouTube celebrity who is best known by his YouTube username of KevJumba. As of December 2011, he is YouTube's seventh most subscribed comedian and tenth most subscribed user overall.”
So, the odds of finding a Knowledge Graph for the 10 most popular channels on YouTube are 50/50. The summary seems rooted in Wikipedia. And despite the obvious connections to YouTube, you currently see photos in the graph and no video.
But, it’s still early days.
That’s why I expect the Knowledge Graph will help users discover new videos as quickly and easily as they can discover text and photos today. So, keep your eyes open.