Metaweb develops both semantic data storage infrastructure for the web, and Freebase, an “open, shared database of the world’s knowledge”. Freebase is a massive, collaboratively edited database of cross-linked data. The idea behind the product is to create a system for building the semantic web. Freebase allows anyone to contribute, structure, search, copy and use data. It sounds like Wikipedia, but instead of arranging by articles, it is more of an almanac, organized like a database, and readable by people and software. You can read our previous coverage of Freebase here.
Clearly, Google is acquiring Metaweb to boost its own search offerings. Metaweb’s database of tagged data will help make Google search smarter. And Freebase will be maintained as a free and open database but Google will continue to develop and contribute to Freebase. According to a blog post on the Freebase site, the site will increase the frequency of its downloadable database dumps from quarterly to weekly. The company says that it will continue to support Metaweb’s existing partners, but won’t be taking on new partners.