Google SERP's new 'semantic' feature
Google quietly introduced an exciting feature recently on its SERP (Search Engine Result Pages). The feature is the 'Best Guess' feature. And wonderful it is because it quite appears like Question-answering on common knowledge and general relations.
Google can now tell you names of spouse (of celebrities of course), names of children, ceo's of company, birthday of someone; capital of a country.. and these are not wrapped in documents but picked out and put there as Best Guess on top of the SERP. This is very smart.
query - Director of Titanic
Best guess for Titanic Director is James Cameron
Mentioned on at least 8 websites including wikipedia.org, imdb.com and answers.com - Show sourcesHide sources - Feedback
children of barack obama
Best guess for Barack Obama Children is Natasha Obama, Malia Ann Obama
Mentioned on about.com - Show sourcesHide sources - Feedback
And it also tells you, where it picked up these guesses from... in the form of 'Mentioned on xx websites including a.com,b.com etc etc'...
This feature is looking quite exciting. It will certainly change the way people search the web and what they expect from the web search engines.
This feature has been around for about an year(and maybe more) but has not garnered a lot of heat yet; may be because the guesses google makes(so far), are really common knowledge and probably does not help an information seeker a lot. Or maybe because information seeker knows the website that gives him guaranteed infortion and does not follow the search engine route to get there. As of now, for me, its more of a play than a smart 'answering' mechanism. But, I am hopeful that this feature will be enriched and more elolved in future.
I put my little thought into how google must be doing this. I thought its doing extraction from socially trusted sources(like Wikipedia) and building a database of important relations. But this is a thought.