Google Makes Major Semantic Web Play, Acquires Freebase Operators Metaweb
By CHRIS CAMERON of ReadWriteWeb
Published: July 16, 2010
The Semantic Web is all about structuring data so that humans and computers can more easily interpret the Web and discover relevant data for a wide variety of purposes. Google, a company built on the ability to advertise based on contextual data, announced today a major acquisition in the Semantic Web space. As of today, Metaweb, maker of Freebase and a leader in the Semantic Web, has joined forces with Google.
Freebase is a massive open-structured database of information about almost anything, including books, movies and music. In fact, Google already has a relationship with Freebase, pulling in its information to provide intelligent search results within Google News. With the acquisition of Metaweb, Google can now leverage the company's tools and data even further, especially within basic Web search results.
"This is a huge win for the Semantic Web," Alex Iskold, founder and CEO of AdaptiveBlue, the semantic technology company behind GetGlue.com (and occasional ReadWriteWeb contributor), told us. "It could not be bigger, because really, we had the biggest company on the Web buy the biggest player in the Semantic Web space."
Google already provides some smart search results, including basic math, sports scores and birthdays of public figures, to name a few. For the most part, however, Google merely serves up links to Web pages; knowing more about what is behind those links could allow the search giant to provide better, more contextual results. To get a better idea of how that could happen, have a look at the video below.
Microsoft made a similar purchase when it acquired Powerset two years ago. Since then, Bing has bested Google in terms of providing smart search results, and has been nibbling at its market share for search. In an effort to keep Bing from eating its semantic lunch, Google is taking Metaweb's technology and data under its wing.
"What about [colleges on the West Coast with tuition under $30,000] or [actors over 40 who have won at least one Oscar]? These are hard questions, and we've acquired Metaweb because we believe working together we'll be able to provide better answers," writes Jack Menzel, Google's director of product management.
Metaweb says that Freebase will remain free and open as always, and will be improved upon due to the Google acquisition. The service's quarterly downloadable data dumps will now be served up weekly, and the company hopes the acquisition will encourage more companies to contribute to Freebase.