Google announced the launch of Knowledge Graph a little over two years ago. It’s already become inadequate for Google’s needs. The search engine wants to be able to quickly answer all of your questions without having to send you to those pesky other websites, and while Knowledge Graph is helpful in many cases, it just won’t do for all queries.
You may be thinking that at as long as that’s the case, Google will still have reason to send people to other sites, but increasingly, that is becoming less the case. Welcome to the era of the “Knowledge Vault.”
Do like Google’s strategy of increasingly attempting to provide content for users on its own, or should they be sending traffic to third-party sites more often like they used to? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Here’s a snippet of explanation:
Knowledge Vault is a type of “knowledge base” – a system that stores information so that machines as well as people can read it. Where a database deals with numbers, a knowledge base deals with facts. When you type “Where was Madonna born” into Google, for example, the place given is pulled from Google’s existing knowledge base.
This existing base, called Knowledge Graph, relies on crowdsourcing to expand its information. But the firm noticed that growth was stalling; humans could only take it so far.
So Google decided it needed to automate the process. It started building the Vault by using an algorithm to automatically pull in information from all over the web, using machine learning to turn the raw data into usable pieces of knowledge.
Based on how the Knowledge Vault is described in the article, it sounds like the basis for those quick answers you often see at the top of search results that provide information or “answers” from the text of third-party webpages. Sometimes these answers are questionable.
Fun Fact: Knowldege Vault is already something that exists outside of Google.
We learn from the New Scientist article that the Knowledge Vault has already pulled in 1.6 billion “facts” and that 271 million of them are rated as “confident facts”. That means Google believes there’s more than a 90% chance they’re true.
You have to wonder if that level of confidence should be considered to be high enough to be presented as knowledge. It is, after all, essentially displacing the traditional search results, which have historically given users an opportunity to see for themselves what the best answer to a query was, based on the their own judgment. Frankly, it’s a little scary as Google has shown time and time again that it can present erroneous information as “knowledge”.
Of course the whole thing also serves to drive less clickthrough to third-party sites, which isn’t bound to sit well with webmasters. It’s only a continuation of a trend that has been steadily building over recent years.
As we live in an increasingly mobile search-driven world, where much searching is done by voice, it’s understandable that Google would want to give these quick answers. From the user perspective, it’s often helpful, and Google is all about the user experience, as the PR team will often tell you.
Whether or not this is actually a good direction for search to be moving in is debatable. Google has long talked about wanting to be a Star Trek-like computer, and it’s certainly getting closer to that. Star Trek, however, was fiction. I’m not a big Trekkie, so I might be wrong, but I’m going to assume that the accuracy of the information given by the computer was often taken for granted. Were there any episodes where the crew visited various third-party websites to fact-check the information they were presented with? For that matter, was the computer run by a giant company motivated by advertising revenue? Did the computer push aside information from competing sources, and sometimes accidentally include branded info? I’m asking. I honestly don’t know.
Do you trust the Knowledge Vault to deliver the right information? Is Google’s evolution problematic for websites? We want to know what you think. Tell us in the comments.
Image via YouTube