updated 5/17/2012 4:45:38 PM ET 2012-05-17T20:45:38

Google has just introduced a new search feature called Knowledge Graph that's designed to make it easier to find basic information on a variety of topics.

When you search for people, places or things, Google now retrieves the basics on those topics, such a short biography, a map or historical significance, and displays that at the top right of your search results automatically.

Knowledge Graph is an effort by Google to make its search engine "think" in a more humanlike way, and to provide the information it believes you are looking for, rather than simply offering a bunch of links. The feature will roll out to users gradually over the next few days, the company says.

Here are two examples: searching for Edgar Allen Poe brings up a short Wikipedia biography of the author as well as the date and place of his birth and death, information on his family, his education and his writings. A search for the Eiffel Tower shows you a map of its location, a brief history, its height and construction date and even contact information for visitors.

All the basics are in one place, and it’s awfully convenient. Before using Knowledge Graph, however, there are a few things you should know.

Knowledge Graph uses Wikipedia

Google partnered with Wikipedia to display much of the information you see. While commonly searched-for topics are fact-checked fairly well, keep in mind that anyone can edit a Wikipedia page. This sometimes leads to inaccuracies and omissions. So don’t use Knowledge Graph as a primary source of information, but rather as an initial, quick reference.

Sometimes you need to be specific

Knowledge Base understands that some things have the same name, but it’s not a mind reader. For example, Taj Mahal is both a shrine in India and an American blues musician. Searching for “Taj Mahal” brings up the results most are looking for: the building. If you are looking for the Grammy winner, it may be necessary to add a keyword (like this: “taj mahal musician”) to get Knowledge Base to show you the results you’re looking for the first time.

Search around a bit

One of the neatest things about Knowledge Base is Google’s effort to connect what you’re searching for with related topics, things or people. Don’t stop at what you’re looking for; check out the related searches that Google provides below the information box. It’s a fun exercise that can lead to some interesting discoveries.

© 2012 TechNewsDaily


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