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Google Just Hi-jacked the Semantic Web Vocabulary

By   /  May 18, 2012  /  No Comments

[Editor’s Note: This guest editorial is provided by Sean Golliher. He can be found on Twitter at @seangolliher]

The Semantic Web’s LOD Cloud

Google announced they’re rolling out new enhancements to their search technology and they’re calling it the “Knowledge Graph.”  For those involved in the Semantic Web Google’s “Knowledge Graph” is nothing new. After watching the video, and reading through the announcements, the Google engineers are giving the impression, to those familiar with this field, that they have created something new and innovative.

Google’s “new” Knowledge Graph

While it ‘s commendable that Google is improving search it’s interesting to note the direct translations of Google’s “new language” to the existing semantic web vocabulary. Normally engineers and researchers quote, or at least reference, the original sources of their ideas. One can’t help but notice that the semantic web isn’t mentioned in any of Google’s announcements. After watching the different reactions from the semantic web community I found that many took notice of the language Google used and how the ideas from the semantic web were repackaged as “new” and discovered by Google.

For those unfamiliar with the existing language, the mapping below shows some of the vocabulary used in Google’s announcements translated to the well-established terminology developed by Semantic Web pioneers:

“New” Google Language   ->  Established Semantic Web Vocabulary


“Knowledge Graph” -> Linked Data Cloud

“Relationships Between things “ -> Linked Data

“ Naming things Better” -> Taxonomy

“Objects” -> Entities

“Ambiguous Language” -> Semantics

“Connecting Things” -> Linked data

“discover new, and relevant, things you like” -> Serendipity

“meaning”-> Semantic

“graph” ->  RDF

“things” -> URIs (Linked Data)

“real-world entities and their relationships to one another: things” -> Linked Data


Google is a commercial search engine and they might claim they are simply trying to explain things in a way their average user can understand.  However, those familiar with this technology can’t help but wonder why Google doesn’t name what they have “discovered” some type of semantic technology or, at least, make a reference about where it was derived.  After all, some version of the semantic web is what Google is beginning to implement and Google engineers didn’t originally develop the ideas.

A few notable comments from Twitter by the Semantic Web Community:

About the Author:

Sean Golliher is an Adjunct professor of Search Engines at MSU and the founder of SEMJ.org. Sean holds four engineering patents, has a B.S. in physics from the University of Washington in Seattle, and a master’s in electrical engineering from Washington State University. He is also president and director of search marketing at Future Farm, Inc., Bozeman MT, where he focuses on search marketing, internet research, and consults for large companies. He has appeared and been interviewed on well-known blogs and radio stations such as Clickz.com, Webmasterradio.com, and SEM Synergy.  To maintain a competitive edge he reads search patents, papers, and attends search marketing conferences on a regular basis.


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