Google Knowledge Graph Brings Home the Bacon

In Hot off the Press by Marius Badenhorst

Even Google knows that there aren’t many things in life that can’t be improved by adding a bit of bacon. Recently adding the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” to its knowledge graph, Google’s latest addition to its search results is not as trivial as at first it might appear.

Before going into the semantics of the project’s search implications however, the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” allows searchers to enter a string of queries containing an actor’s name alongside the phrases “Bacon number.” Results show the precise number of degrees between said actor and Kevin Bacon. The game was initially inspired by an interview that recorded Kevin Bacon saying he’d worked with everyone in Hollywood.

Similar to the attention drawn from the collection of Olympic Google Doodles that were published throughout the international sporting event, the “Bacon Number” has users spending more time inside the search engine, hopping from one search string to the next.

What does this mean for Google?

Well for one thing it means more money. Search is still Google’s primary form of income, which logically means that more queries equal more moola. Aside from Google raking in the cash however, the “Bacon number” also represents the overhaul of the search engine’s latest and greatest development, i.e. its knowledge graph.

Google’s engineers have worked hard to design algorithms that crunch all sorts of structured and sophisticated data. The success of their “Bacon number” tool points to a time when Google searchers will be able to browse the connections between politicians and analyze financial data; basically discover the world in search terms.

Standing behind their belief that search is about discovery, Google’s knowledge graph has transformed an industry, which was previously relegated to matching keywords to queries, into an intelligent model that is focussed on understanding the ambiguity and richer meaning of language. The uncertainty of where this will lead professional search optimisers poses the same level of excitement as easter-egg-like “Bacon number” hunts. Let’s get hunting shall we?

About the Author

Marius Badenhorst