Over the next few days, you may notice a lot of changes on your Google search pages. Recognizing that people need more context when searching for something, Google is launching the Knowledge Graph to make it quicker and easier to find information. It's one of the most aggressive updates to Google's flagship product in years and, we think, one of the most useful. Let us show you how it works.
On a basic level, Google's new Knowledge Graph is extremely intuitive. In the past, searching a term like Marie Curie (which Google's blog offers as an example) could be a pretty convoluted affair. You'd get a link to her Wikipedia page, several links to bios, a string of photos, a random collection of news articles and then page after page of links to content that was somehow connected to Curie. You would not get basic information like a brief bio, when and where she was born, to whom she was married or whom she counted as contemporaries. The Knowledge Graph changes all of that. Now, for over 500 million persons, places and things, you'll see a new widget on the right hand side of the page that serves as a sort of quick reference for data on the search term.
The type of information that the Knowledge Graph shows you varies based on the search term. lf you search for a director like, say, James Cameron, you'll see links to Cameron's awards and films in addition to all that basic info. The Knowledge Graph pulls all of this information from various sources like Wikipedia, the CIA World Factbook and Freebase. All in all, it looks kind of like a cheat sheet to the world.
The second half of the Knowledge Graph is a little more functional and will get smarter over time. Let's say you type "Apollo" in to Google's search field. In the past you'd get a messy mix of results about everything from the Apollo space program, to the Greek god to the theater in Harlem. But the new Google search has a firmer grasp on what's called the Semantic Web or the strings of meaning that tie together different terms. Now, on the right hand side of the page you'll see options for each of the various Apollos and selecting one will filter the search results so that you're just seeing those for the specific version of the term you were searching for.
Google's pumped about this new era of search because it means that they'll be able to better understand how people are searching. This will also let them compete with next generation search engines like Wolfram Alpha. And for the user, it simply means finding information more easily and quickly. Next, they'll have to figure out a way to discover what we want to search before we know we want to search it.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.