No News Is Good News – Monitoring Average Sentiment By News Network With Diffbot’s Knowledge Graph

Ever have the feeling that news used to be more objective? That news organizations — now media empires — have moved into the realm of entertainment? Or that a cluster of news “across the aisle” from your beliefs is completely outrageous?

Many have these feelings, and coverage is rampant on bias and even straight up “fake” facts in news reporting.

With this in mind, we wanted to see if these hunches are valid. Has news gotten more negative over time? Is it a portion of the political spectrum driving this change? Or is it simply that bad things happen in the world and later get reported on?

To jump into this inquiry we utilized Diffbot’s Knowledge Graph. Diffbot is one of the few North American organizations to crawl the entire web. We apply AI-enabled web scrapers to pages that are publicly available to extract entities — think people, places, or things — and facts — think job titles, topics, and funding rounds.

We started our inquiry with some external coverage on bias in journalism provided by AllSides Media Bias Ratings.

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Generating B2B Sales Leads With Diffbot’s Knowledge Graph

Generation of leads is the single largest challenge for up to 85% of B2B marketers.

Simultaneously, marketing and sales dashboards are filled with ever more data. There are more ways to get in front of a potential lead than ever before. And nearly every org of interest has a digital footprint.

So what’s the deal? 🤔

Firmographic, demographic, technographic (components of quality market segmentation) data are spread across the web. And even once they’re pulled into our workflows they’re often siloed, still only semi-structured, or otherwise disconnected. Data brokers provide data that gets stale more quickly than quality curated web sources.

But the fact persists, all the lead generation data you typically need is spread across the public web.

You just needs someone (or something 🤖) to find, read, and structure this data.

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The 6 Biggest Difficulties With Data Cleaning (With Work Arounds)

Data is the new soil.

David Mccandless

If data is the new soil, then data cleaning is the act of tilling the field. It’s one of the least glamorous and (potentially) most time consuming portions of the data science lifecycle. And without it, you don’t have a foundation from which solid insights can grow.

At it’s simplest, data cleaning revolves around two opposing needs:

  • The need to amend data points that will skew the quality of your results
  • The need to retain as much of your useful data as you can

These needs are often most strictly opposed when choosing to clean a data set by removing data points that are incorrect, corrupted, or otherwise unusable in their present format.

Perhaps the most important result from a data cleaning job is that results be standardized in a way that analytics and BI tools can easily access any value, present data in dashboards, or otherwise make the data manipulatable.

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From Knowledge Graphs to Knowledge Workflows

2020 was undeniably the “Year of the Knowledge Graph.”

2020 was the year that Gartner put Knowledge Graphs at the peak of its hype cycle.

It was the year where 10% of the papers published at EMNLP referenced “knowledge” in their titles.

It was the year over 1000 engineers, enterprise users, and academics came together to talk about Knowledge Graphs at the 2nd Knowledge Graph Conference.

There are good reasons for this grass-roots trend, as it isn’t any one company that is pushing this trend (ahem, I’m looking at you, Cognitive Computing), but rather a broad coalition of academics, industry vertical practitioners, and enterprise users that generally deal with building intelligent information systems.

Knowledge graphs represent the best of how we hope the “next step” of AI looks like: intelligent systems that aren’t black boxes, but are explainable, that are grounded in the same real-world entities as us humans, and are able to exchange knowledge with us with precise common vocabularies. It’s no coinincidence that in the same year that marked the peak of the deep learning revolution (2012), Google introduced the Google Knowledge Graph as a way to provide interpretability to its otherwise opaque search ranking algorithms.

The Risk Of Hype: Touted Benefits Don’t Materialize

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Robotic Process Automation Extraction Is A Time Saver. But it’s Not Built For the Future

Enough individuals have heard the siren song of Robotic Process Automation to build several $1B companies. Even if you don’t know the “household names” in the space, something about the buzzword abbreviated as “RPA” leaves the impression that you need it. That it boosts productivity. That it enables “smart” processes. 

RPA saves millions of work hours, for sure. But how solid is the foundation for processes built using RPA tech? 

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First off, RPA operates by literally moving pixels across the screen. Repetitive tasks are automated by saving “steps” with which someone would manipulate applications with their mouse, and then enacting these steps without human oversight. There are plenty of examples for situations in which this is handy. You need to move entries from a spreadsheet to a CRM. You need to move entries from a CRM to a CDP. You need to cut and paste thousands or millions of times between two windows in a browser. 

These are legitimate issues within back end business workflows. And RPA remedies these issues. But what happens when your software is updated? Or you need to connect two new programs? Or your ecosystem of tools changes completely? Or you just want to use your data differently? 

This shows the hint of the first issue with the foundation on which RPA is built. RPA can’t operate in environments in which it hasn’t seen (and received extensive documentation about). 

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The Ultimate Guide To Data Analysis

Data analysis comes at the tail end of the data lifecycle. Directly after or simultaneously performed with data integration (in which data from different sources are pulled into a unified view). Data analysis involves cleaning, modelling, inspecting and visualizing data.

The ultimate goal of data analysis is to provide useful data-driven insights for guiding organizational decisions. And without data analysis, you might as well not even collect data in the first place. Data analysis is the process of turning data into information, insight, or hopefully knowledge of a given domain.
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Is RPA Tech Becoming Outdated? Process Bots vs Search Bots in 2020

The original robots who caught my attention had physical human characteristics, or at least a physically visible presence in three dimensions: C3PO and R2D2 form the perfect duo, one modeled to walk and talk like a bookish human, the other with metallic, baby-like cuteness and it’s own language. 

Both were imagined, but still very tangible. And this imagery held staying power. This is how most of us still think about robots today. Follow the definition of robot and the following phrase surface, “a machine which resembles a human.” A phrase only followed by a description of the types of actions they actually undertake. 

Most robots today aren’t in the places we’d think to look based on sci-fi stories or dictionary definitions. Most robots come in two types: they’re sidekicks for desktop and server activities at work, or robots that scour the internet to tag and index web content.

All-in-all robots are typically still digital. Put another way, digital robots have come of age much faster than their mechanical cousins. 

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Diffbot State of Machine Learning Report – 2018

In what will likely be the first of many reports from the team here at Diffbot, we wanted to start with a topic near and dear to our (silicon) hearts: machine learning.

Using the Diffbot Knowledge Graph, and in only a matter of hours, we conducted the single largest survey of machine learning skills ever compiled in order to generate a clear, global picture of the machine learning workforce. All of the data contained here was pulled from our structured database of more than 1 trillion facts about 10 trillion entities (and growing autonomously every day).

Of course, this is only scraping the surface of the data contained in our Knowledge Graph and, it’s worth noting, what you see below are not just numbers in a spreadsheet. What each of these data points represents are actual entities in our Knowledge Graph, each with their own set of data attached and linked to thousands of other entities in the KG.

So, when we say there are 720,000+ people skilled in machine learning – each of those people has their own entry in the Knowledge Graph, rich with publicly available information about their education, location, public profiles, work history, and more.

RIP: The Semantic Web

The Semantic Web has been a hotly debated topic for many years now.

The conversation has gained some momentum recently in how we frame issues like search, SEO, and linked data.

Semantic technologies have long been heralded as the best way to add linked data to your site.

But since the rise of AI, many are now asking, “Is the Semantic Web dead?”

In short, yes.

One article from Semantico even gave it a eulogy several years ago, indicating that it’s been in the process of dying for several years.

Of course, it’s not quite dead. Like a butterfly in a cocoon, it’s merely in the process of evolving into something better.

But why does this transition matter?

The Semantic Web was important to a lot of the ways we view data and handle data on our sites, especially in how they relate to search and SEO.

Without the Semantic Web, we wouldn’t have the Google we know today, for example.

But Google and other tech giants are now moving beyond semantic technology into the realm of AI and Machine Learning.

With that in mind, here’s what you should know about the “death” of the Semantic Web and what it means for you.

What Is the Semantic Web?

The Semantic Web was our first attempt at structuring and organization the data on our websites so that search engines like Google could easily read it.

As W3C defines it, the Semantic Web “provides a common framework that allows data to be shared across application, enterprise and community boundaries.”

The idea was that if everyone’s data could be organized semantically – logically – search would be a cinch.

In terms of search, the Semantic Web would use data to create associations of known entities through the “structured data” within the page markup.

But the Semantic Web was a bit tedious. It required users to manually tag every web page in order to fit into its system.

Much of the information we get from the Internet today is delivered in the form of HTML documents linked to each other through hyperlinks (this is the linked data mentioned earlier).

If users failed to connect this data (tag it) properly, it would fail.

Machines, too, have a hard time extracting meaning from the links without proper structure.

Machines also have trouble understanding intent, which is the foundation of search.

Semantic Web technology was the first attempt to determine intent by creating a database of information that all linked (and related to) each other.

It was far from perfect, but it worked for a time.

Unfortunately, with the rise of Machine Learning, deep learning and other forms of AI, the Semantic Web has become much less capable by comparison.

Semantic technology is transitioning to AI.

In his article, “The Semantic Web is Dead, Long Live the Semantic Web,” Denny Britz argues that the Semantic Web has been replaced by the “API economy.”

“APIs are proliferating,” he says.

He also notes that the biggest reason that the Semantic Web is failing where other, smarter technologies are succeeding is that semantic languages were hard to use.

“Semantic Web technologies were complex and opaque, made by academics for academics,” he adds. “[They were] not accessible to many developers, and not scalable to industrial workloads.”

Diffbot’s Knowledge Graph, for instance, can now extract meaningful information from the web with high levels of accuracy.

The graph uses a combination of Machine Learning and probabilistic techniques, combined with lots of data.

In essence, AI and Machine Learning are now capable of doing everything that the Semantic Web originally aspired.

And they’ve made the old ways somewhat irrelevant.

What This Means for Structured Data

So what does this all mean for you, the average web data user?

For one, it means that your Google search results are going to be much more accurate.

For another, it means that the way you structure your site’s data will significantly impact its rankings on Google and how well Google’s AI will be able to read that data.

Using Schema Markup – a type of semantic vocabulary – for example, will be important to SEO.

But it also means that you will need to use more powerful scraping tools if you want to collect data from other sources around the web.

In his nearly decade-old article, “5 Problems of the Semantic Web,” James Simmons describes one of biggest issues with the Semantic Web being a lack of bottom-up approach to web scraping.

He says that in the future “content scrapers of the Semantic Web and beyond will be equipped with the ability to read the content within Web documents and feeds.”

This technology, he adds, “Does not yet fully exist.”

Except that now it does.

With AI and Machine Learning, scraping technologies have improved to be able to process natural language as well as read structured (and unstructured) data in a highly accessible way.

The programming languages we use now are able to cut through the complexities of web data so that any site – regardless of size or number of HTML documents – can use data to grow.

In other words, the death of the Semantic Web is a very, very good thing for business.


While the Semantic Web deserves a lot of praise for being the first of its kind in the world, there comes a time for every technology to evolve.

It might be easier to say that the Semantic Web is transitioning, rather than dying, but the reality is that AI and Machine Learning are outpacing it at a significant rate.

The way that new data technologies are growing is a sign of things to come.

But this is good news for sites that want to use data to outpace the competition. With AI and Machine Learning, it’s possible to gather data from any site at any time.

You don’t need some sort of “futuristic web scraper” because the technology already exists today.

You can get the data you need, the way you need it, from the sources you need it with very minimal effort.

If the Semantic Web has to die for this to happen, it’s a death we won’t shed any tears over.