Google is starting to roll out its newest search feature, Knowledge Graph, an enhancement that serves up extra info instantly in the sidebar of your search result.
Puzzled? Don't be. Basically, it's there to enable you to search for things, people or places that Google knows about – landmarks, celebrities, whatever – and be shown relevant knowledge that you're most likely to be after right there on the results page. Say you're looking up Marie Curie: you’ll see her birth and death dates, but you’ll also get details on her education and scientific discoveries and her family.
Or if you're Googling 'Taj Mahal', you'll see the option to see all results about the Taj Mahal casino resort, for example, or the musician.
The related data is collated from sources like Wikipedia, Freebase, the CIA World Factbook and, yes, the sites that Google itself crawls.
the inter-relationships between real-world entities – "things, not strings".
"This is a critical first step towards building the next generation of search, which taps into the collective intelligence of the web and understands the world a bit more like people do."
A concern often raised about curation on the personalised web is that of the loss of serendipitous discovery. Google reckons the Knowledge Graph will help us make unexpected discoveries from time to time.
Knowledge Graph is designed to save time and clicks, and will likely be better received than Search Plus Your World was. And it may well mark the next step in the evolution toward smarter search, or as engineering Craig Nevill-Manning recently put it, the all-knowing Star Trek computer.
For now, this is only available to US English users, and seems to only take into account basic facts and figures. But as TheNextWeb's Matthew Panzarino points out, this is likely only the beginning. What happens if Google moves from conduit to curator and begins highlighting editorial content in the same way?