An investigation into a major hole in Google’s knowledge
I discovered something strange yesterday. It began when, in an effort to make a stupid joke on Twitter, I tried to figure out the names of the Hobbit movies. What baffled me was that this quickly turned out to be a harder task than anticipated when Google refused to tell me the name of the 2nd Hobbit movie.
Now, to clarify, I’ve never seen a single Hobbit. While I’m a big Game of Thrones fan and I understand that George R. R. Martin’s work would not exist without J. R. R. Tolkien’s, I also think that Peter Jackson doesn’t make movies I enjoy and that three Hobbit movies seemed like nothing more than a money grab.
These are the things I knew—or, at least, thought I knew, before I started using Google to get some answers:
- There is one Hobbit book (which I’ve read and mostly liked) and three Hobbit movies.
- Peter Jackson made the three Hobbit movies. By all accounts, he probably should’ve just made one. But he did, certainly, make three.
- The first is called “The Big Journey” or something. The second is called “The Hobbit Versus the Dragon Smaug.” And the third is The War of the Five Battles or something.
- Yes, I knew these weren’t exactly what they were called, which is why I had to google this.
My awareness of The Hobbit has remained heightened over the last several years, largely due to the ongoing YouTube series On Cinema, in which Gregg Turkington repeatedly mentions The Hobbit movies as some of his favorite movies.
Turkington’s obsession with The Hobbit—and his self-proclaimed status as a #hobbithead—is one of the most compelling running themes in On Cinema, including his running belief that a write-in vote will help The Hobbit sweep the Oscars.
As mentioned before, this went from a simple search of “hobbit movies” to going down a bizarre search engine rabbit hole, in which I realized that the Google Knowledge Graph appears to have no knowledge regarding The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
This entire thing is a perfect blend of two major interests of mine: search engines and pop culture. For an example of something else I’ve written in this vein, check out the article I wrote and accompanying research about Game of Thrones and fan theories.
Before we continue this investigation, let’s briefly discuss what the Google Knowledge Graph is. If you are among the initiated with a thorough (or at least competent) understanding of Google’s Knowledge Graph, feel free to skip past this next section and jump back into the Hobbit stuff. Continue reading “Why Doesn’t Google Know About The Hobbit 2: The Desolation of Smaug?”