Thursday, June 29, 2006

What have we done for you lately?



As you might imagine, we on the Google Video team use it for pretty much everything. It shouldn't be such a surprise, then, to know that the feature requests we get internally mirror those that you send to us. Namely, just like you, Googlers want to pay less and interact more. So this past week, we've been very busy rolling out changes to make this a reality.

First, more things are now free. We're doing a sponsored video test so you can watch premium videos without paying. (Perhaps we were inspired by the conversation Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett had about philanthropy with Charlie Rose).

Next, have you been itching to tell us (and the rest of the world) what you think of our videos? Now you can rate, label, and comment on them. We know you're dying to say something about this David Hasselhoff clip or the latest one about Diet Coke + Mentos.

Last, we made it easier for you to blog some of these entertaining pieces under the new "Share this video" link on the playback page. A few clicks and your current favorite is directly embedded into the most popular blogging platforms like Blogger, TypePad, MySpace and LiveJournal.

Stay tuned for another batch of features - and meanwhile, enjoy these.

Find it with Google. Buy it with Google Checkout.



We've heard time and again from users: "I find great stores through Google search, but every time I try to buy from an online store, I have to re-enter the same billing, shipping, and credit card information. There are too many steps. Why can't it be as fast as a Google search?" This motivated us to improve the online purchase process, and so today we're announcing Google Checkout, a checkout option that makes buying across the web fast and easy.

One cool feature of Google Checkout is that you can buy from stores with a single Google login – no more entering the same info each time you buy, and no more having to remember different usernames and passwords for each store. To help you find places to shop, you'll see a little icon on the Google.com ads of stores offering Google Checkout. It's an easy way to identify fast, secure places to shop when you search. And after you've placed your order, Google Checkout provides a purchase history where you can track your orders and shipping information in one place.

Because we see big benefits for shoppers as the service grows, our immediate priority is to help more online stores join Jockey, Starbucks Store, Levi's, Dockers, Buy.com, Timberland, Zales, and others to offer Checkout on their sites. To keep website integration simple, we've built a range of integration alternatives such as cut and paste buy buttons, pre-integrated ecommerce partner offerings, and an API that supports more advanced integration.

Beyond flexible integration options, Google Checkout also works with Google's search advertising program, AdWords, so online stores can more easily attract new customers, increase sales and process them for free. We're especially excited about combining Google Checkout with AdWords because it gives our advertisers a more complete solution for attracting customers through Google and processing the sales that result. Just so you know, you don't have to be an AdWords advertiser to use Checkout on your website, so don't let that hold you back.

We hope this new service makes online shopping sprees faster, easier and much more fun. For our advertisers and online store partners, we hope this service also helps you serve your customers and grow your business. Learn more by watching these videos for shoppers (which you can also watch below) and merchants - and remember to visit http://checkout.google.com.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Update on wi-fi in San Francisco



In April the City and County of San Francisco chose the bid from EarthLink and Google to offer citywide Wi-Fi access, and we're thrilled about that. A key part of this project has been keeping citizens apprised of our progress and answering questions along the way. Towards this end, we recently sent a letter to the City of San Francisco that addresses our commitment to user privacy. We look forward to continuing our work with EarthLink and the City to build a citywide wireless network.

Germany and the Google Books Library Project



We're delighted that WBG, a German publisher, today decided to drop its petition for a preliminary injunction against the Google Books Library Project. WBG (whose legal action was supported by the German Publishers Association as an industry model) made the decision after being told by the Copyright Chamber of the Regional Court of Hamburg that its petition was unlikely to succeed.

It's our belief that the display of short snippets from in-copyright books does not infringe German copyright law. Today the Court indicated that it agreed, drawing a comparison with the snippets used in Google web search. And the Court also rejected the WBG's argument that the scanning of its books in the U.S. infringed German copyright law.

We've always recognized the importance of copyright, because we believe that authors and publishers deserve to be rewarded for their creative endeavors. And we specifically designed Google Book Search to respect copyright law - never showing more than two or three snippets around a search term without the publisher's prior permission, which they can give through our Partner Program. This is separate from the Library Project, the subject of this petition. By helping people to find and buy books, Book Search enables publishers to reach a much larger, and more global, audience.

Google is passionate about the digitization of books, which we believe benefits everyone by making the world's knowledge more accessible. And we're also passionate about being responsible partners who can work closely with our thousands of partners around the world – publishers, authors and libraries – to help make this dream a reality.

Update: changed title.

Spend your summer with Google Desktop



If you're a Google Desktop fan looking for something to do this summer, it's time to get your creative juices flowing and create a submission for the Google Desktop Gadget Contest. Winning a cool T-shirt almost goes without saying, but you could also win the top prize of $5,000. To help you along, there's the Google Desktop Gadget Designer, a WYSIWYG development environment.

And since Google Desktop 4 is now available in traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese, Korean, Russian, Swedish, Finnish, Danish, Norwegian, Polish, Turkish, Hungarian, Czech, Slovenian, Greek, Slovak, Croatian, Catalan, and Bulgarian, be sure to think globally as you design your gadget. And speaking of version 4, thanks to all the testers who gave us feedback, we're now able to bring the English version out of beta. So if you've been waiting to easily search and personalize your desktop, here's your chance.

Lastly, if you need some inspiration for the contest, check out our list of Google Gadgets. You might be surprised at what you find...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

More of the world in your pocket



Today Google's mobile web services get a bit more worldly: We've just added a raft of new languages to the pocket-sized versions of Gmail, News, and Personalized Home. Along with U.S. and U.K. English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch, Russian, Chinese, and Turkish interfaces to most of these products.

If you've already used any of Google's products on your mobile device (like Maps), you know it's a great way to stay connected to the Internet, even if your PC is miles away. What's handy about these three products in particular is that they keep you in touch with the information that matters most to you.

Personalized Home, for instance, displays the same customized content as your personalized Google homepage on the PC, but in a phone-friendly format that's easy to read and navigate. (If you've been looking for a fast, easy way to view any feed via your phone, here it is.)

Then there's Gmail. If you've ever been on the road, desperate to remember something like a flight confirmation number that's stashed in your inbox, or directions to a party you were sure you could remember, this mobile version of Gmail lets you quickly search, read, and reply to email wherever you are. (And note the nifty mobile-specific features we've added, like Gmail's ability to directly call buddies in your contact list.)

News can get personal, too: now you can search across mobile news sources to reel in the latest news on whatever subject you're a fan of, whether it's 'arsenal football' or just all things 'macintosh' -- wherever and whenever. So give 'em all a whirl -- visit Google in your mobile phone's browser, and click the News, Gmail, or Personalized Home links.

You might just discover the little communications device in your pocket has just become a whole lot more valuable.

Protecting children online



Google is deeply committed to providing a healthy and trusted online environment for all of our users, and especially children. While the Internet provides an amazing opportunity for people to connect with useful information, some online material poses serious risks to children and families, and some online behavior violates the law and should be eradicated. Child pornography, in particular, is a horrific and vicious crime. Today, I testified before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations about Google’s efforts to keep kids safe online. Among the initiatives that I highlighted:

- Google has a zero-tolerance policy on child pornography. We prohibit any advertising related to child pornography. When we become aware of child pornography anywhere in our search engine or on our site, we immediately remove and report it to the appropriate authorities.

- We work closely with law enforcement to help track down child predators, and respond to hundreds of child safety-related requests per year.

- We help families stay safe online with tools like SafeSearch, which enables users to filter adult content from search results. We also promote online safety through our support of the WiredSafety education campaign.

These are just the beginning. We believe that much can be done to combat child exploitation online, and are committed to doing our part to protect the Internet as a safe place for all.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A Sitemaps update



Website owners will want to know about a raft of new features we've just released for Google Sitemaps. This is just the latest in a long line of recent additions, including:
  • robots.txt analysis tool
  • quick snapshot of the status of your site in the index, notification of violations of the webmaster guidelines and an easy-to-use re-inclusion request form (here)
  • comprehensive webmaster help center
If you don't have a Sitemaps account already, get started with the site status wizard.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Adobe and Google team up for Toolbar



Starting today, Adobe is offering the Google Toolbar to its customers as a free download -- a great way to take Google search with you anywhere on the web. You can access Google search capabilities from any website, block pop-ups, see search suggestions as you type, personalize your toolbar by adding buttons from your favorite sites, and more. We're excited to partner with Adobe to make these features available to their users, and look forward to finding other ways to work together.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Calling for federal consumer privacy protection



Google is committed to protecting your privacy and to supporting an Internet environment that also respects individual privacy. Today, we're joining a group of notable U.S. companies calling for federal consumer privacy legislation.

Here in the U.S., we have a growing patchwork quilt of state privacy laws, disparate industry-specific privacy laws (for example, different laws covering health-related data, financial data and children's online data), and a similarly-mixed bag of data security laws. This matrix of laws is complex, incomplete, and sometimes contradictory. For consumers, the result is a set of privacy protections that are uneven at best.

On an Internet beset with spyware, malware, phishing, identity-theft, and other privacy threats, enforcement of privacy protections has become an industry-wide challenge, and highlights the lack of a coherent regulatory structure. Google strongly supports the adoption of a federal consumer privacy law. It would be good for our users, and would contribute to consumer trust on the Internet as a platform for communication, expression, e-commerce, and so forth. Americans care about their privacy, and so does Google. A baseline U.S. federal consumer privacy law will help protect all of us online.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Publishing your Google Calendar



Lots of people already use Google Calendar to stay organized and schedule their lives, and that's great. But maybe you want to publicize an event for a group of people -- say you're the captain of a dragonboat racing team who needs to coordinate the practice and race schedule for your crew. Possibly you're a soccer fanatic who wants to publish all the 2006 FIFA World Cup matches. Or maybe you'd like to publish a calendar of cool events around town to share with friends.

Now you can get the word out to anyone, because we just added a new publishing feature that lets you show an interactive calendar to others -- even if they don't use Google Calendar. All calendars now have a simple web page that you can point people to, and you can even incorporate one into your own website, profile page or blog. A few quick steps and you'll be ready to show others what's going on in your world.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Finding government info



Want to find those IRS forms to get in your taxes on time? Need to figure out where to send your DMV fees, or find the phone number for your local parks and rec department? Google U.S. Government Search launches today -- it's a site on which you can 1) search across a huge index of U.S. Federal, state and local government websites via a single search box, and 2) stay up to date through personalized content feeds from government agencies and press outlets. Off you go.

For easy bookmarking, go to http://usgov.google.com.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The 36th edition of Google News is Arabic



As we increase the number of languages supported in Google News, and as the number of Arabic news sources available on the web grows, now there's Google News in Arabic. This edition is a little different than the other 35: normally, we target editions to a specific region like a country, but the Arabic edition targets the entire Arab region of the world -- so Arabic speakers from more than 20 countries have access to an especially wide variety of perspectives on the news being published in their language.

Arabic readers can visit the Google News homepage to see a compilation of links to top news headlines all in one view, look for news just in their favorite categories, or search within news stories for particular terms. We're glad to be launching Google News for a whole new audience, and we look forward to bringing it to even more people around the world.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

It’s all about the photos



Reading feedback from Picasa users is one of the best parts of my job. And lately the feedback has been especially clear and direct: please offer an easy way to share photos online. Today, we’re delighted to begin testing a new Picasa feature that does just that. It’s called Picasa Web Albums.

In case you’re not familiar with Picasa, it’s Google’s free desktop photo management software. Picasa is a quick download that makes it easy for people to organize and edit their pictures using something that’s simple and clutter-free. It’s all about the photos. And now we’ve tried to bring that same experience to online photo sharing with Picasa Web Albums. Just pick a bunch of your photos from Picasa and upload them into a web album in a couple of clicks. Once they’re online, it’s super-easy to share them – click the “Share” button from anywhere on the site or, just email friends the URL for your public gallery.

Take a look at the photos that our tester wants to share: Try flipping through photos using the arrow keys (we pre-fetch photos so they load quickly). Zoom in and out to check out details or see the whole photo. Or maximize them on a large monitor. We focused on the photos, not ads or archiving, because we know how important your photos are to you especially when you want to share them. Of course, there's a lot we want to add and improve — which is why for the moment, we're only testing this feature by invitation. If you’re interested in making your own Picasa Web Albums (and helping us make it better), give us your Gmail address here. We’ll be sending out invitations first come, first served.

Once you have an invitation, you’ll be able to download the latest version of Picasa with the web uploading feature. And actually, it’s not just about web uploading -- there’s also downloading. We wanted to make sure you can keep enjoying the photos your friends have shared with you. With this in mind, when viewing others’ galleries, you can download an entire album of photos directly into Picasa with just a couple of clicks. For uploading and downloading to and from Picasa Web Albums, you’ll need the new version of Picasa – again, it’s only available to invited users for the time being.

Finally, you may be wondering if this costs anything. No, and no hidden fees either. Picasa is free as always, and Picasa Web Albums comes with 250MB of free storage space. That’s enough for approximately 1,000 wallpaper-sized photos at 1600 pixels each. We also offer an easy-to-understand storage upgrade option if you have a whole lot more pictures to share.

We’re working hard to make both Picasa and Picasa Web Albums better. And we’re excited to start making our most commonly-requested feature available to more people. Try it out and tell us what you think. We’d love to hear from you.

The Bard's the thing



Summer in New York: kids running through fountains, steamy subways, P. Diddy's White Party in the Hamptons, and ... Shakespeare. Today, Shakespeare in the Park kicks off its 50th year with free performances of Macbeth in Central Park. To help celebrate (and because we love a good excuse to delve into old books), we've created a place to find and search the complete plays of Shakespeare. Here, book lovers and theater fans alike can explore popular favorites and lesser-known gems right from their desktops with Google Book Search. (Note that some print versions of Shakespeare's plays may not be in the public domain everywhere in the world. Where copyright status is in question, we protect the publisher by showing the Snippet View. As always, we encourage you to let us know if you believe a publication should be in Full Book View, and we hope you bear with us as we confirm the status and, whenever appropriate, change the display.)

Finally, if you want to learn more about how Book Search is helping people around the world browse and discover books of all kinds, be sure to check out our new blog too.

More gadgets, more places



We've released the Personalized Homepage feature in Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Ireland and New Zealand, so that more of you around the world can put the information you want on your Google homepage.

And given the football frenzy now underway, we've included the gadget for the World Cup in these new editions to make live scores, standings and schedules available. So hop to it now for soccer updates or other info (like news, weather, recent Gmail messages, and feeds from your favorite sites).

Monday, June 12, 2006

Happy Birthday, Google Earth



We got so excited around here about the first anniversary of Google Earth that we decided to celebrate a bit early. Beginning today, you can download a brand new version, Google Earth 4. Running on OS X? Feel the love. Prefer Linux? Ditto. Yes, we're releasing simultaneously for PC, Mac (universal binary for full performance on both Intel and PowerPC based Macs) and for the first time ever, native support for popular Linux distributions. And we should say "salut," "ciao," "hallo," and "hola" to our French, Italian, German and Spanish users, because Google Earth is now fully localized for those languages in addition to English. This includes a UI localized to French, Italian, German, and Spanish, as well as local search, driving directions, geo-coding, and unique local information layers for those countries.

Got data?
The streamlined new UI is bound to make you crave new places to explore, so we put together a little update to our database — we increased our global coverage by about 4X. Google Earth now covers more than 20 percent of the landmass of the entire globe with high-resolution satellite imagery (soon Google Maps will too). When we say "high resolution," we mean the good stuff: you can see cars, houses, buildings in more than 200 countries and territories. Not every house is covered, only about two billion of them. That's our best estimate, anyway — that about 1/3 of the population of the Earth can now see their homes in high-resolution. Google Earth has had medium resolution global satellite coverage since the beginning. But that was at 15 meters per pixel. This new global coverage was produced in conjunction with our exclusive satellite partner, Digital Globe, and is at approximately 70 cm per pixel. We have even better data for many countries, up to 10 cm per pixel.

What global insights can this new data produce? Google Earth has already helped save tsunami, hurricane, and earthquake victims, not to mention find a lost Roman villa, track severe storms, discover new meteor craters, track the outbreak of avian flu, visually index magazine articles and photos, host travel videos, redefine the house-shopping process, track airplanes in flight, recognize every Medal of Honor recipient, and many other uses we never expected. Only time will tell what it will bring, and it will only be fully realized when energetic and creative people use powerful tools like KML to exploit the new data and features.

Why not KML in Maps?
We asked that too. KML is such an amazingly flexible way to create and share geographic information - whether it's sharing vacation photos with your friends or publishing important data like the realtime earthquake feed from the U.S. Geological Survey — we thought it would be useful to be able to view KML in Google Maps. So here it is! You can now view KML in Maps by entering the URL for your KML file. To browse hundreds of thousands of interesting KML files, see what the half million members of the Google Earth Community have created.

Feeling inspired?
Google SketchUp and Google 3D Warehouse have enabled creative individuals around the world to model their world in 3D. A new version of SketchUp is available today that enables the export of fully-textured 3D models to 3D Warehouse and Google Earth. This will bring even more realism to the collectively-authored 3D world SketchUp users are creating.

Ready to mashup?
Our legion of Maps API developers asked us to support geocoding. So we decided to push that out today too. Street-level geocoding is now available for the U.S., Canada, Japan, France, Italy, Germany and Spain. Let the mashing begin.
Correction: Street-level geocoding is not available in Japan.

Are you enterprising?
Finally, now there's Google Maps for Enterprise, offering a fee-based service and support for businesses that want to embed a Google Maps experience in their websites or internal applications. It leverages the Google Maps API to enable businesses to map customer locations, track shipments, manage facilities or view any other data source in a geographic context.

Whew. I'm exhausted from writing all of that. Our first year has been a busy one. We hope you enjoy these latest efforts in our mission to geographically organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Movers, shakers and hoops on video



There are so many videos available on Google Video that we don't always know where to start, so we turned to you viewers to help us decide what to watch. We use algorithms to identify videos that are suddenly becoming popular, and then rank them based on how popular they are -- and how suddenly they became popular. We've been using this list internally, and now it's ready to share with you, so check it out. Right now this feature highlights videos from close to 40 countries, including Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, and New Zealand, to name a few.

And by the way, we're guessing there might be some interest in the NBA Finals, too. We're not going to miss a minute -- and now, neither will you.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Being a good sport



Summer’s that time of year when a lot of Googlers channel our inner Tiger, Ronaldinho, Venus, Shaq or Albert. Admittedly, most of us are weekend warriors and couch potatoes, not to mention keyboard jockeys — and we tend to fall into a few other categories, too. Fortunately Google can help us all out: we’ve got some new sports-related products and search features launching. When it comes to sports information, do you recognize your type here?

Hometown Hero. Whether across continents or across branches of the family tree, you’re fiercely loyal to that team that stirred your childhood passions. But time zones, TV broadcast schedules, and the demands of, say, work or dinner may not always cooperate. Now Google can deliver up-to-the-minute scores, stats, and schedules 24x7. Check out:

- Google.com — Fire it up on the browser of either your PC or mobile device to search for your favorite World Cup group or team to view real-time scores and schedules

- Sports Gadgets — Add these to your personalized Google homepage, including a new one with World Cup info

- Google SMS — Text-message a team name to 46645 (GOOGL) in the U.S. for World Cup scores and schedules. Fans in Germany, Japan and Canada can also give it a whirl.

- Google Desktop - Get live World Cup scores right on your desktop with this Soccer Scores gadget

Sports-Commentator-In-Training. Forget “le mot juste” — you’re about “le stat juste” or “le uplifting personal story juste.” You color commentator-wannabes have to have the latest data in hand and want to connect with others just like you, since your significant other has probably long since tuned you out). Check out:

Joga.com — Football (a.k.a. “soccer” in the U.S.) fans, build your own groups and clubs, share all kinds of football-related info, upload photos and video, and get updates on matches and events

Google Alerts — Get current news and website changes as they happen by creating Alerts for your favorite teams and players

Google Video — If you can't be in Germany this month, feed your football fever at this special section of Google Video

The Intellectual. You look underneath the sweat and adrenaline to explore the cultural and psychological underpinnings of sports and sporting events. Big questions like football vs. soccer, or perhaps basketball vs. ice hockey as a preferred winter sport. Or maybe the impact of major sports events on worker productivity. To further indulge your curiosity, there’s Google Trends.

The One with Team Pajamas. Enough said. If you're a fan of both football and Firefox, soon you can grab this Joga.com extension built in collaboration with Firefox to show support for your team (or all 32 of them) while you're surfing the web. You'll have a constant pulse on games, players, and stats.

Update: Google.com results currently support group or team search only. Added Google Video link; added link to Google Desktop Soccer Scores gadget.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Debate over Net Neutrality



The debate over "net neutrality" is coming to a boil in the next week as the House of Representatives is due to vote on a bill that could determine the future of the Internet. The big phone and cable TV companies want Congress’s permission to create a new, unprecedented regulatory bureaucracy on the Internet – a private bureaucracy of broadband monopolists with the power to determine what content gets to you first and fastest. Google believes that forcing people and companies to get permission from, and pay special fees to, the phone and cable companies to connect with one another online is fundamentally counter to the freedom and innovation that have defined the Internet.

Our CEO Eric Schmidt believes this situation is so important that he has written an open letter to Google users asking them to speak out on this issue. We urge all of you to read his letter and call your representative in Congress at 202-224-3121. For more information on the issue, and more ways to make your voice be heard, visit It'sOurNet.org.

Update: For those following this debate closely, the key House vote is happening Thursday night or Friday morning on the Markey-Boucher-Eshoo-Inslee Amendment, which would add meaningful net neutrality provisions to H.R. 5252, the Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement (COPE) Act. We believe anything less that this amendment would be a loss for freedom and innovation on the Internet.

Get in sync



What could be worse than forgetting to bookmark the obscure page you found that maps out the perfect walking tour of Venice? Having bookmarked it on the computer sitting on your desk back at home, 6000 miles away, instead of on the laptop you brought along. Or how about the frustration of being on a new computer and not remembering your passwords because your browser on your old computer automatically filled them in for you?

These sorts of frustrations inspired us to build a Firefox extension that keeps your browser settings for all your computers in sync. Google Browser Sync unifies your bookmarks, history, saved passwords, and persistent cookies across all the computers where you install it. It also remembers which tabs and windows you had open when you last closed any of your browsers and gives you a chance to reopen them. We think you'll enjoy how it handles sync conflicts and "just works," enabling you to bring your browser with you everywhere.

Meanwhile, we've also been improving version 2 of the Google Toolbar for Firefox. We've fixed a bunch of bugs and made it more stable, so we're stripping off the "beta" tag. We'll be updating all Toolbar users to this new version in the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Hello, I'm a Mac. And I'm a Mac Video Player.



We just released the Mac version of the Google Video Player. Now Mac users can buy and download the premium shows on Google Video. Go on, grab an episode of CSI you forgot to TiVo, or perhaps an old favorite episode of Star Trek Voyager.

For added coolness, the Mac Google Video Player is a Universal binary, so it runs natively on both Intel and PowerPC Macs. Our new player will also play the free videos from our site, so you can download and keep movies like Cat on Ice, this very cute wombat or my personal favorite, Talking Cats. This is the perfect excuse to run out and get one of those cute new black MacBooks...

It's nice to share



Many of you must be wondering, “Whatever happened to 2Web Technologies?" Um - no? Anybody? Well, if you're wondering, we joined Google's New York City office last year to come up with a solution to a problem we understood all too well: how to quickly and easily share information in real time. Spreadsheets were a clear target. They can have real power, but there are equally real drawbacks to collaborating and sharing them. This fact led our little team to explore making spreadsheet software, and the spreadsheets themselves, available on the web. And now, Google Spreadsheets is available as a limited test on Google Labs. Even when it was only partly developed, we used Google Spreadsheets (alpha!) to manage our task lists, our feature lists, our bandwidth estimates, our storage estimates, even our complex team event voting ;). We now know the true meaning of "share."

Now when I say “share,” I don’t mean “send group email,” and I certainly don't mean "time-share". (That’s actually the root of the problem we are trying to solve: multiple out-of-sync versions that are email attachments.) I do mean “use and update the same spreadsheet.” When I use Google Spreadsheets to organize events with the other parents at my kids' school, we’ll be looking at the same details at the same time. If I change the agenda of next Friday’s teacher’s meeting, the other parents will see that change immediately. When my brother-in-law’s bike club uses Google Spreadsheets to track rides, they’ll be in sync -- and if I change the time of next week's ride, the other riders may actually show up.

So don’t be surprised if you are soon invited by someone to share a spreadsheet. (We're rolling this out as a limited test.) Your kid's sports coach, your aunt in Omaha trying to organize a major family reunion, your friend who promised to compile a list of all your favorite hiking trails (and now wants you to help), or your project team which now has a way to keep tasks and status in one place for all to see.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Acumen Fund’s 2006 Fellows



Recently I wrote about the new Acumen Fund Fellows Program, with a call for applicants. We were overwhelmed by the response: Some 600 candidates from 52 countries applied for the opportunity to spend a year with Acumen Fund, first for training at our New York office and then working to support an investment in the field. The applicant pool demonstrates the powerful desire among the next generation of leaders to merge financial and analytical skills and business experience with the social, political and environmental needs of our world.

After an intense three-month selection process, we are extremely pleased to announce our eight 2006 Fellows, who hail from Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.

• Jocelyn Wyatt
(U.S.) Previously India Country Director for Scojo Foundation
• Nadaa Taiyab (Sri Lanka) Former World Bank Consultant in Indonesia
• Keely Stevenson (U.S.) Created first online community for social entrepreneurs, Social Edge for the Skoll Foundation
• Fabrice Ndjodo (Cameroon) Former investment analyst with International Finance Corporation
• David Lehr (U.S.) Reuters Digital Vision Fellow, Stanford University
• Adrien Couton (France) Senior Associate at McKinsey & Company
• Eric Berkowitz (U.S.) Founder of management consulting firm ESB Partners
• Ayeleen Ajanee (Pakistan) Previously with Unilever, Pakistan

Our goal in creating the Fellows Program was to build an “entrepreneurial bench” of talented individuals for the social enterprise sector. Key to our ability in attracting and selecting these Fellows was the strong involvement of the Acumen Fund community. The support we’ve received from Google.org has been invaluable in launching the Fellows program, as well as in building our management capacity worldwide and in fueling new investments.

Again, we are delighted to be announcing this cohort of extraordinary individuals, who will be starting with us in September. Over the next few weeks, we will be posting more information on each Fellow on the Acumen Fund blog, as well as updates from each with observations and insights as they begin their work this fall. We hope to see the Fellows program serve as a model for developing leaders with the skills and moral imagination to build solutions from the perspective of the poor.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Reply by chat



I love how when I reply to a message in Gmail, the message I compose gets grouped into the same conversation. Seriously -- of all the ways Gmail works, this tops the list for me. Having to look in separate places to find sent vs. received messages just feels so antiquated. Gmail keeps my conversations in context, and whether I'm looking back one day or several months later, I get a full view of exactly what we discussed.

But sometimes I want to reply to an email message, but I notice the sender is online and available for chat. Wouldn't it be nice if chat replies get grouped with the conversation just like email? Now they do: At the bottom of any message sent by someone on your buddy list, right next to where you'd click to "Reply" or "Forward," there's a link to "Reply by chat" if the sender is online. This will open a chat window, and the chat history will be saved to the same conversation. Nice.