Google’s Bacon Number was introduced this week, allowing users to see how many degrees separate Kevin Bacon from any thespian (as well as some non-thespian, celebrity types). As an easy way to play the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game it has some novelty (there is some dispute as to its accuracy). The true value of Google’s Bacon Number though, is to demonstrate the massive potential of the Google Knowledge Graph.
Google’s Bacon Number as a standalone feature
There’s always been something inherently cool about the Kevin Bacon game. Some of the novelty of the game has a lot to do with how forgettable Kevin Bacon’s roles are. Not only has he been in a ton of movies, but he has been in a ton of movies that are difficult to remember.
What’s the benefit for Google to do something like this? Well, if you’re like me you probably played around with it a bit:
Google’s Bacon Number foreshadows their YOU Number
Google’s Bacon Number should give you an idea of the future. Rather than associating movies with actors,imagine it associates you with other people, with events, with your interests… the possibilities are quite endless. The different tangential searches that are possible with a frame of reference are mind-boggling, and the carousel and sidebar enhancements that Google has rolled out tied to the Knowledge Graph have been impressive. Google’s Knowledge Graph is a hugely ambitious project to personalize search.
I wrote yesterday about Bing’s “Bing it on” marketing campaign and how in some cases the difference between Google and Bing is more aesthetic than qualitative (Matt Cutts recently intimated that Bing was using Google as a signal in their search algorithm).
Google’s Bacon Number should give an indication of the commitment that Google is making to differentiate from their competitors in personalized search. Bing and Facebook should be terrified.