Tag Archives: google

Google introduces Knowledge Graph

Remember Wolfram Alpha, the ‘answers engine’, that looks up search queries from a knowledge base of curated, structured data? Probably not, because it’s traffic is pretty small. But when it was released in 2009 Google certainly took note.

Why? Well, because Wolfram Alpha is driven by curated data, it gets more and more powerful the more data is inputted. And Wolfram Alpha users can drop data sets into the engine to see what it makes of them. It’s basically super clever and super techie.

Google, always with its eye on the future, started working on its own enhancements – not directly taking a lead from Wolfram but certainly looking to improve the intelligence of its search. Hence Knowledge Graph.

Knowledge Graph is Google’s new database product which attempts to not only catalogue all the people, places and things in the world but also – and this is the cool bit – map out the relationships between them. By understanding the relationships between things, Google will be able to work out, for example, whether your search for ‘Lion’ refers to the animal or the Apple operating system.

You can read all about it here. Or take a look at the video embedded below:

We’ve had a little play and it looks pretty cool – we’re looking forward to seeing it rolled out fully. And we’d love to hear what you think.

This post originally appeared on the Edge website.

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Obligatory Google+ post

Google+ screen

We thought we’d let the dust settle a little bit around Google+ before posting out thoughts up here. But since its launch on June 18th, the dust has shown no sign of settling – in fact there seems to be more and more dust being kicked up every second.

I’m going to stop with the dust metaphor now because I’m annoying myself.  Google+ has added 18 million users and notched up a billion shares a day. It’s being touted as the Facebook killer, the Twitter killer. Business is clamouring to get involved. Every where we turn in the blogosphere, the twittersphere, even in (the) Facebook(sphere) there’s a new article on Google+, and almost every website we look at now has the ‘+1’ button integrated next to their ‘like’ and ‘tweets’ counters (just scroll down toward the bottom of this piece). It feels, already, like part of the landscape.

But let’s break this down a little:

Those figures

I like to think of myself as an early adopter, and indeed, was amongst the first 18 million Google+ users. Not bad, eh? I digress. Anyway as an ‘early adopter’ messing about in Google+ feels a bit lonely. Even with all those folks on there I have about 20 people in my circles. Of which I would say 3 are posting things regularly. The rest have set up a profile and as yet have posted NOTHING – no activity. A large user base is good, lots of shares is good, but if it’s limited to a small elite then it’s not. Of course, it’s early days. There are some interesting stats on usage on Mashable if you want further reading.

UPDATE: In addition it appears that Facebook users spend 4 times as long on the site as Google+ users – again indicative of the fledgling nature of the site, but nevertheless not all that impressive as yet.

Google+ as the Twitter killer

Some commentators have said Google+ is akin to Twitter in that you can follow people without their permission (rather than them having to accept your request, as in Facebook), and therefore this makes Google+ the Twitter killer. Obviously this doesn’t take into account the stripped-down appeal of Twitter – the single-function nature of it that allows people to rapidly scan a whole load of information. And Twitter’s die-hard fanbase. And the niche it’s carved its-self as a real-time news feed. NEXT!

Google+ as the Facebook killer

Facebook killer. Well, again, no. Facebook is entrenched in Western society to the point that it is showing signs of reaching a natural saturation point, but in countries that were a little slower on the uptake, Facebook is still registering phenomenal growth. And good luck if you think you’re going take Facebook’s audience – comfortable and familiar with the user interface as they are – and prize them away. Look at the uproar that happens when Facebook change their own page layout. Oh no, people DO NOT like change. Yes Google allows you to combine multiple networks and integrate your contacts and email – but I know a lot of people who don’t have an email address and communicate online exclusively via Facebook’s messaging feature. Google has taken most of Facebook’s features (lists is basically a less sexy interfaced version of circles; video chat is coming to FB via the Skype link-up, etc etc) and made them a bit slicker in some cases, but I don’t think enough to get people to move. Having said that, I don’t think it has to be an either or.

Google+ for business

Google+ have actively asked businesses to wait for a few months until they have their specific business version ready. And that makes a lot of sense. Brand who are desperate to get onto Google+ now – why? We don’t yet have enough data on how, when and why people use it to know what your strategy should be for the medium. It took a long time before Facebook opened up properly to brands and with good reason – they now have a fantastic brand offering, which acts as a second CRM for brands that use it. Google+ are wise to follow suit.

UPDATE: here’s a little more info on Google+ brand pages, and how brands can prepare for their launch.

Summary

So in summary – I think Facebook, Twitter and Google+ can certainly co-exist in the medium term. I’m not sure exactly how my Google+ use will differ from my Facebook and Twitter posts as yet, or whether I’ll just end up replicating – it depends what my network on there ends up looking like. But I don’t see myself shutting down any of them. At the worst, Facebook gets marginally less facetime from me. At the best, I spend exactly the same amount of time on Facebook but work a longer day.

And – lame though I know this sounds – I think it’s way too early to say how useful it will be to me, you or business. But I had to contribute to that dust cloud!

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Bing it.

Interesting to see that Microsoft have turned on the advertising budget to promote their search engine Bing in its seemingly futile attempt to take on Google.

It’s David vs David, a clash of the titans. But Microsoft is so far off the pace it’s hard to watch as it scrambles to play catch-up.

The guys at Microsoft must have thought: OK, Google has first mover advantage (or something approximating that: they weren’t first, but they were first with a decent product), how do we break into the market?

And the answer? Well apart from the obvious (coming up with a whacky/meaningless name to mimic Google, copying or approximating Google’s algorithm and even appearence), they’ve gone for the tried and tested: we’ll pump loads of money into advertising the product. Yeah, that’ll work.

Trouble is, that’s not really the way things DO work any more. Standing on an overturned milk-crate in the street shouting your message into people’s faces as they pass by is more likely to irritate than engage. And a message like ‘our results are clearer and more concise than other search engines’ really isn’t going to do it – people will judge that for themselves, and most commentators still find Bing slightly lacking compared to Google.

So what SHOULD Microsoft do? Well, for a start, it could find something a bit more emotive than ‘clear and concise’. That claim is debatable, and not exciting or engaging, or even interesting. Maybe it could try actively setting itself up as the anti-Google. It would need to be VERY upfront, admitting all past sins: “yeah, we’re no tiny independent, and we know we’ve hardly been a big champion for customer choice, but that’s in the past. The world has changed and so have we. Customers deserve choice.”  Try to make it COOL to ‘Bing it’, a form of rebellion. There is of course a huge danger of getting the tone completely wrong and being crucified for hypocrisy/evil corporate behaviour/monopolistic empire building, but if Microsoft get it right, don’t take it too seriously, and try to have fun, then they could win. It’s a very risky strategy, but then ‘clarity’ carries no risk, but very little chance of success either.

Then there’s the medium: it’s all very well making ‘3 TV ads and an integrated social media campaign’, but why not cut out the TV ads and associated huge media spend and really ramp up the social media. Develop user generated content. Take the campaign to the streets using guerilla marketing. Give people a reason to talk about the brand, rather than telling them what to think, and maybe they’ll actually start to engage.

Or just carry on spending millions on mass advertising and hoping for a decent response rate. Yeah, let’s stick with that. It’s safe.

This blog was originally published on my company website here.

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Get pickled

I was in the pub the other night. Get used to that as an opening sentance on this blog, it’s going to happen a lot. Anyway. So. I was in the pub the other night, and a friend asked me: ‘what’s the point of Twitter’.

Good one.

So I had a think and rather than start blathering on about social media this and buzzword that I gave her an example, and it was this:

I do a wee bit of mountain biking, and an oft-used abbreviation for mountain bikes is ‘mtb’. When I was up in Scotland a couple of weeks ago riding some of the brilliant 7 Stanes trails I started tweeting about what I was up to and adding the hash tag ‘mtb’ so that other twitterers would be able to find my posts if they were interested in mountain biking. I also did a quick search for #mtb myself and as a result started following a couple of interesting people, including @teampickle, @bikerumor and @LostSociety.  Team Pickle especially have been really useful, they’ve already introduced me to a couple of new areas to ride that I didn’t know existed – including Lee Quarry Mountain Bike Centre, which I intend to ride very soon. I’ve also discovered Team Pickle’s blog, which I’m a big fan of – check it out if you need a bit of inspiration to get out and ride.

new-bigger-team-pickle-logo

So to go back to my friend’s question, the point of Twitter, quite simply, is to share information – and that information can be as frivolous, as geeky or as useful as you want it to be. Guaranteed, there’s someone else out there tweeting about something that matches your interests, and your life could get a teeny bit better as a result of what you learn.

The information Twitter delivers is also stuff you wouldn’t necessarily get to via Google. A Google search for mtb is clogged up with lots of official resource sites and commercial organisations – I got to page 5 and Team Pickle’s blog still hadn’t appeared. And yet, from a generic search term like ‘mtb’, the information I got from Team PIckle (via Twitter) was extremely relevant to me – potentially more so than the Google stuff.

So, Twitter = information delivered in an alternative way to Google. Not a great revelation to anyone I’m sure, but it’s always nice to clarify things for myself, especially when I’m in a pub.

And I hope everyone checks out Team Pickle. Go on, they look like nice folks!

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