Initial excitement over the Knowledge Graph seems to have calmed down somewhat. That’s probably not surprising, as the reality of the first pass on such things does tend to fall short of the promises made at announcement time. Turns out it doesn’t really harm anything to drop a dollop of Wikipedia content in the right column, although I’m not sure just what it adds.
The graph doesn’t seem to find much to link out to in the general run of subject queries. Honda? Nope. Solar battery charger? Nope, the right column is still showing products for sale on that one. Digital rights management? Nope, more ads. People and place names seem to trigger the graph UI more than anything else, which makes sense in terms of unambiguous identification and lack of saleable products that can make a $tronger claim to the screen real estate. But hey, each of those queries returns something in Wikipedia, so why couldn’t the graph find something to link to somewhere on the Google results page?
OK, let’s toss it a softball and search for a person. Hey, who’s Kickapoo Ed? The relevance ranker picked the right Ed, which is to say the one I was thinking about when I entered the query, based on three of the top four results. That second one is a curiosity, though. I had never heard of the pitcher for the early 20th-century Tigers, and given his World Series record as reported in Wikipedia, maybe that’s not a big surprise, either. Then again, I’m happy enough to have learned that tidbit of history. But why would the relevance ranker guess along with me, while the knowledge graph shoots off on a tangent of its own?
Oh wait. Maybe it’s because Inkdroid Ed doesn’t have a Wikipedia page of his own (not yet, anyway). As much wrenching as he’s done on those pages, it seems he ought to be acknowledged in that venue. But nope again. Wikipedia itself goes straight to Kickapoo Ed without even a disambiguation alert. It seems the function of the knowledge graph is powerfully emphasizing breadth of horizontal connections over vertical depth digging further on a particular concept. And who doesn’t love a little serendipitous discovery?