All of today's press about Universal Search is overshadowing a very important launch -- timeline and map visualizations of search results. This product really demonstrates the power of digging into the structured information that lives on the web. The best thing about it is, the information that goes into these visualizations was not designed for this use. Whereas the Semantic Web folks have always envisioned getting the entire world to author RDF repositories, the Google Views product shows just how much you can do by reverse-engineering from the information that's already published.
If I sound a little enthusiastic about this, it's because I worked on similar projects for a long time at Google. The entire team over there has worked through an immense number of technical challenges to get to this launch. The technology stack they've built for understanding information published on the web is really very impressive.
My favorite use of Views is to explore historical topics. Want to understand the history of Iraq, or al Qaeda? It's too damn easy.
Congratulations to everyone involved in this launch. What's next? :)
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