This is cross-posted from my personal blog, Daily Casserole:
Welcome to the era of the Knowledge Graph.
You’ve heard of the Social Graph, which was invented and popularized by the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Simply put, it has been described as “the global mapping of everybody and how they’re related”. In fact, much of the value that potential investors see in Facebook as it approaches its much-anticipated IPO later this week is in the data the company sits on — which is an accumulation of information that users add to the service (photos, videos, links, etc.) together with the relationships between individual Facebook users and what they share.
A Knowledge Graph, then, is an aggregate view into what any system or social structure knows about any given topic or idea. As more and more information is assembled — in the Google database, for instance — it is possible to see relationships between individual pieces of information and to connect dots to assemble all the knowledge available on a given topic into a single view.
To this end, Google introduced a new approach to the way it handles search today and they’re calling it a Knowledge Graph. They’re hoping it will change the way people use search moving forward. To do this, Google is using both its own database and other sources like Wikipedia, the World CIA Factbook, Google Freebase, Google Books, online event listings and other data it crawls, as well as some undisclosed commercial datasets. Take a look at the example to the left, which is a Knowledge Graph-powered result for a search for Frank Lloyd Wright. You not only get biographical data from Wikipedia in neat little summary, you also get a collection of Google Images and a nice feature showing what other people searched for that might be related to your own search query.
While Google is not the first to coin the term, they are certainly the biggest and most prominent brand to embrace the idea of a Knowledge Graph. Says Google:
…we’re building aKnowledge Graph: a huge collection of the people, places and things in the world and how they’re connected to one another.
This is how we’ll be able to tell if your search for “mercury” refers to the planet or the chemical element–and also how we can get you smarter answers to jump start your discovery.
Like every innovation at Google, their intent is not only to get their users better and more accurate information, but to then better target advertising around your search results. They genuinely want to make people smarter or better informed, but they also want to provide improved opportunities highly accurate ad delivery.
Google’s point of view on the knowledge graph, however, is about relationships between pieces of information (what they term “knowledge”) and how those relationships can be instantly exploited to present search results that are smarter and more comprehensive than ever before. Here’s a video describing the new effort and the ways they’re innovating around the idea of a knowledge graph:
But this is just one take one what a knowledge graph can be.
At Pathbrite we’ve introduced a different take on the knowledge graph, which has more to do with what actual people know and have accomplished in their own lives:
We help students – and learners of all ages – collect, track and showcase a lifetime of learning and achievement, and then recommends pathways for continuous success. We do this by documenting, analyzing and mapping personal achievement of all kinds against an individual’s goals and those of their peers – which is Pathbrite’s version of a Knowledge Graph. Students use Pathbrite Portfolios and their performance relative to a wider Knowledge Graph to close skills or achievement gaps, and to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.
While our company is early-stage and our product still in Beta, the hope is that Portfolios and a wider Knowledge Graph will help students and others get into their preferred schools or land the jobs of their dreams. School admissions officers and employers are beginning to use the Pathbrite Platform to get a holistic view of candidates, and to better evaluate their readiness for and organizational fit to any given opportunity at hand. Long-term, the hope is that any entity — organizational, corporate or governmental — can get an accurate view into what any cohort might know and jobs they’re prepared to do thanks to the Pathbrite Knowledge Graph. Here’s a video describing Pathbrite’s take on Portfolios and their Knowledge Graph:
It’s so great that Google has introduced its own take on the Knowledge Graph, because it elevates awareness of the power of knowledge when aggregated, analyzed and shared on a global scale. It also highlights the next frontier in knowledge management and self promotion, which Pathbrite plans on leading.