Google enhances search with Metaweb acquisition

Late last week web giant Google improved its search capabilities with the acquisition of San Francisco-based Metaweb – an open database of ‘things’.

Founded in 2005, Metaweb is a community driven database of entities that attempts to aggregate all content related to one person, place or thing in the one place and then link it to all relevant material.

The company maintains an open database, called Freebase, of over 12 million things, including movies, books, TV shows, celebrities, locations and companies, which Google plans to contribute to and further develop.

The use case for Freebase is in its dissemination of rich content, where an entity can be embedded in a web page as a widget, expanding on Google’s efforts with rich snippets and the search answers feature.

“We’re just beginning to apply our understanding of the web to make search better. Type [barack obama birthday] in the search box and see the answer right at the top of the page. Or search for [events in San Jose] and see a list of specific events and dates. We can offer this kind of experience because we understand facts about real people and real events out in the world. But 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,” said Jack Menzel, director of product management at Google, commenting on the acquisition.

It was recently speculated that Google is revamping its social media strategy after the poor adoption of its earlier attempts. Wave doesn’t seem to have turned into a tsunami, Buzz is more of a low hum and Orkut is very much rooted in Asia and Latin America. So the firm is now looking to Google Me  to succeed where its other attempts have met with lukewarm reception, perhaps launching a competitor to Facebook using all that personal info it has gathered to flesh out its offering.

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