Facebook Wants You to Catalog the Known World

Tom Simonite of the MIT Technology Review reports, "More than one billion people visit Facebook each month, mostly to see photos and messages posted by friends. Facebook hopes to encourage some of them to do a little work for it while they’re there. By asking people to contribute data—from business locations to book titles—and to check one another’s work, Facebook is building a rich stock of knowledge that could make its software smarter and boost the usefulness of its search engine. 'We’re trying to map what the real world looks like onto Facebook so you can run really expressive and powerful queries,' says Mitu Singh, product manager for Facebook’s entities team, a group charged with building a resource called the entity graph."

He continues, "The entity graph is a little-known companion of Facebook’s famous social graph of around a billion people and 150 billion friend connections. The entity graph describes everything from the restaurants of New York to the concept of philosophy and the connections between those concepts. Singh and colleagues jokingly refer to their work on the entity graph as 'project job security,' since mapping every entity in the world is a distant prospect. That knowledge store is seen as vital to the ambitions of Facebook’s Graph Search service, unveiled last month and as yet available to only a fraction of the company’s users (see Facebook’s Graph Search Isn’t That Great). Unlike a conventional search engine, Graph Search is designed to understand the meaning of the phrases entered by a searcher and then deliver specific results such as people, places, books, or movies rather than just links to Web pages."

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Image: Courtesy Facebook