Ever wonder how STD rates change over time in the US? Well, Google has you covered. The search giant recently developed the public data explorer in its experimental labs. The public data experiment aggregates and visualizes mounds of data from the World Bank, The US Bureau of Labor Statistics and other resources. It is the next step towards a more robust search engine that not only aggregates links, but gives you answers.
There are two types of web engines: your basic, Alta Vista that just searches, then there’s the computational knowledge engine, like Wolfram Alpha. If you want to find resources about Alabama, use Alta Vista. If you want to find answers to basic questions about Alabama, go to Wolfram.
Right now, Google is in the middle. The search engine offers a series of links, images and other advanced search features, but does not tell you anything about Alabama. Instead it gives you the resources, much like Alta Vista — although more comprehensive and accurate — to find what you’re looking for.
If Google wants to evolve its search engine further, it needs to develop more computational knowledge features. In essence, Google needs to aggregate knowledge and make sense of it, much like Wolfram Alpha.
For anyone that has written a research paper, digging through thousands of links takes time. For instance, if you type, “mobile ad stats 2009,” wouldn’t it save incredible amounts of time if Google produced all of the mobile ad statistics for 2009 in a chart? If you want to learn more, maybe find some interesting quotes about mobile ad statistics, you can search through the best links.
Although Google developed Internet Stats, a pseudo-computational knowledge engine, it is limited to the UK and exclusive resources, such as Nielson and eMarketer. Strange that Google hasn’t developed computational knowledge features, as sorting data is seemingly less challenging than making sense of news and blogs. The crowdsourcing website, Factual.com, exemplifies how data could be pooled and incorporated into search.
Google’s genius could take computational knowledge even further, and begin data analysis and insights. The public data experiment is the next step for Google to advance its computational knowledge abilities — the next unexplored frontier — and not only be the best search, but answer engine.