2013-02-22

A small step for Google ...

... a giant leap for the Semantic Web?

For french-reading people I've already published two days ago on Mondeca's blog Leçons de Choses why I think the Google Knowledge Graph, despite all its value, is so far neither part of the Semantic Web, nor even properly interfaced with it. 
It's really frustrating, because a very small step for Google could represent indeed a giant leap for both Linked Data visibility at large and general understanding of the role of URIs for identification of things on the Web. This small step would be as simple for Google as doing the following.

- Acknowledge that the Web of things has not been invented by Google, but is the basis of the Semantic Web pile of languages, vocabularies and linked data (which did not invent the concept either, but provided the technical infrastructure enabling it).

- Acknowledge that the natural identification of things on the Web is done by dereferenceable URIs, and that billions of such URIs already exist, provided by scores of trustable sources.

- Acknowledge that the things stored by Google and displayed in the Knowledge Graph have most of the time already been identified by at least one of those URIs (on DBpedia, Freebase, VIAF, Geonames ...) 

- Hence, logically include such URIs in the Knowledge Graph descriptions, as every other regular linked data base does. 

This should be very simple and really cheap since Google certainly already holds such information, if only through Freebase. It does not even need to either coin its own URIs for the Knowledge Graph things, nor provide an API for them (this is a complementary move, but with certainly more technical, legal and business issues). 

And as a search engine, Google could (should) indeed go a step further, by ranking the URIs of things as it has done for the URLs of pages, images, videos, places, books, recipes ... As long as we have to go to a specific Semantic Web engine like Swoogle or Sindice to search a URI for some-thing, the Semantic Web will not be a natural part of the Web. Getting URIs of things as part of a regular search from the major search engine would be a significant milestone.

Added (2013-02-25) Follow-up of discussion with +Luca Matteis on Google+
Google results are currently URLs of pages in which the name of the thing I'm searching for is present, plus a proxy for the thing in the form of the Knowledge Graph item. Among results at https://www.google.com/search?q=Victor+Hugo I would like to find a little box with URIs identifying the thing-Victor-Hugo-himself, such as the following.
And looking more closely at this, even adding DBpedia to the query https://www.google.com/search?q=Victor+Hugo+DBpedia does not really improve the results, but actually shows that the URI explicitly declared by DBpedia as representing the thing I'm looking for, http://dbpedia.org/resource/Victor_Hugo, is plainly ignored.