Friday, June 29, 2007

1-800-GOOG-411: now with maps



In case you hadn't heard, a few months back we launched 1-800-GOOG-411 (1-800-466-4411) in the U.S. It's a free telephone service that lets you search for businesses by voice and get connected to those businesses for free.

Today, your GOOG-411 experience just got better: during your call to GOOG-411, just say "map it", and you'll get a text message with the details of your search plus a link to a map of your results right on your mobile phone.

Try it out, and add us to your phone book while you're at it. Let us know what you think either by emailing us or by joining our discussion group.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Google Desktop now available for Linux



Just a few months after Google Desktop became available for the Mac, I'm happy to tell you it's now available for Linux users too. Google Desktop for Linux makes searching your computer as easy as searching the web with Google. Not only can you rediscover important documents that have been idling on your hard drive for years, but you can also search through emails saved in Gmail or other applications. All office files, including documents and slides created with OpenOffice.org can be easily found. Since some Linux users are program developers, Google Desktop was designed with the ability to search source code and information contained in .pdf, .ps, .man and .info documents. It also features the Quick Search Box ,which you can call up by pressing the Ctrl key twice. Type a few letters or words into the search box and your top results pop up instantly. Keeping with a global focus, you can use it in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean --and it works with many versions of Linux too.

With this launch, Google Desktop is now available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Try it out now and read more on the Google Desktop Blog.

Ga-Ga for Gadgets



Sometimes I think I know a lot. I can code like a champ and also know the difference between a Monet and a Manet. But on closer inspection, maybe I don't know very much at all. When it comes to fine wines, for instance, I can't tell the difference between Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Chateau-de-Cardboard, and if you asked me who played in the Super Bowl last year, I'd probably say the Dolphins. And lots of people at Google are like me: we know some things, and have some good ideas, but we certainly don't know everything or have all the good ideas.

So when we designed iGoogle, our personalized homepage, we baked that recognition right in to the product by developing the Google Gadgets API. Google Gadgets are applications that developers can create and anyone can embed into their iGoogle homepage or their own website. In the year and a half since we launched Google Gadgets, we've seen a lot of growth in this program. The developer community has created thousands of gadgets, and the top gadgets get tens of millions of pageviews per week. This is great for our developers, as iGoogle gives the gadgets broad distribution, and it's great for our iGoogle users, as they benefit from a richer variety of options for their personalized homepage. There have been some really interesting gadgets created, from to-do lists to Zelda, from a pair of eyes that follow your mouse around the screen to an entire customer relationship management (CRM) application.

We've been hearing from a lot of gadget developers that they'd like to spend more time developing if they could, and we've been thinking about ways to help them do that. To that end, we're happy to announce Google Gadget Ventures, a new pilot program that will help fund third-party gadget development and gadget-related businesses. We plan to offer two types of funding: $5,000 grants for gadget developers who want to invest time making their already successful gadget even better, and $100,000 seed investments for new gadget-related businesses. For now, applications are restricted to gadget developers who have more than 250,000 pageviews per week on their gadget.

Our hope with Google Gadget Ventures is to help create an ecosystem where developers can spend more time doing what they love -- building great gadgets. You'll find more details on how to apply on Tom's post on the Google Code Blog and the Google Gadget Ventures web page. I'm extremely excited to see what you all come up with!

New advisory group on health



Every day, people use Google to learn more about an illness, drug, or treatment, or simply to research a condition or diagnosis. We want to help users make more empowered and informed healthcare decisions, and have been steadily developing our ability to make our search results more medically relevant and more helpful to users.

Although we have some talented people here with extensive backgrounds in health policy and technology, this is an especially complex area. We often seek expertise from outside the company, and health is no exception. We have formed an advisory council, made up of healthcare experts from provider organizations, consumer and disease-based groups, physician organizations, research institutions, policy foundations, and other fields. The mission of the Google Health Advisory Council is broadly to help us better understand the problems consumers and providers face every day and offer feedback on product ideas and development. It's a great privilege for us to work with this esteemed group

Google Health Advisory Council
(Institutions or affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.)

Chairman
Dean Ornish, M.D., Founder and President, Preventive Medicine Research Institute, Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco

Douglas Bell, M.D., Ph.D., Research Scientist, RAND Health, RAND Corporation

Delos M. Cosgrove, M.D., Chief Executive Officer, The Cleveland Clinic

Molly Coye, M.D., M.P.H., Chief Executive Officer, HealthTech

Dan Crippen, Former Congressional Budget Office Director & Reagan White House Assistant

Linda M. Dillman, Executive Vice President, Risk Management, Benefits and Sustainability, Wal-Mart

John Halamka M.D., M.S., Chief Information Officer, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center & Harvard Medical School and Chairman, Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP)

Bernadine Healy M.D., Former head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Health Editor & Columnist, U.S. News & World Report

Bernie Hengesbaugh, Chief Operating Officer, The American Medical Association (AMA)

Douglas E. Henley, M.D., F.A.A.F.P., Executive Vice President, American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)

David Kessler, M.D.,Former FDA Commissioner, Vice Chancellor-Medical Affairs & Dean, School of Medicine, UCSF

John Lumpkin M.D, Senior Vice President, Director of Health Care Group, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

John Rother, Group Executive Officer of Policy & Strategy, AARP

Anna-Lisa Silvestre, Vice President, Online Services, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc.

Greg Simon, J.D., President, FasterCures

Mark D. Smith, M.D., MBA, President & Chief Executive Officer, The California HealthCare Foundation

Paul Tang, M.D., Internist & Vice President, Chief Medical Information Officer, Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) & Chairman, Board of Directors, American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA)

Sharon Terry, M.A., President & Chief Executive Officer, Genetic Alliance

John Tooker, M.D., MBA, F.A.C.P., Executive Vice President & Chief Executive Officer, American College of Physicians (ACP)

Doug Ulman, President, Lance Armstrong Foundation

Robert M. Wachter, M.D., Professor of Medicine, University of California-San Francisco (UCSF); Associate Chairman, UCSF Department of Medicine; Chief of the Medical Service, UCSF Medical Center

Matthew Zachary, Cancer Patient Advocate, Founder & Executive Director, The I'm Too Young for This! Cancer Foundation for Young Adults

Update: Added links to two more bios.

9,000 and counting



This month, we passed the 9,000 mark for enterprise buyers of the Google Search Appliance and the Google Mini. That's a great beginning, but we want to reach out even farther, which is why we're embarking on a partnership with Ingram Micro, one of the largest global distributors of technology products in the world. Ingram has extensive reseller relationships that can help us deliver the power of search behind the firewall to businesses of all sizes, more efficiently and at a larger scale than we could on our own.

Both the Google Mini and the Google Search Appliance are available immediately to qualified Ingram Micro solution providers in the U.S., with plans for a phased rollout in other regions through the end of 2007.

Contact us here to obtain a Google Mini or here for a Google Search Appliance.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Put your photos on a map, and Picasa on your phone



If you've ever seen a great picture and wondered where it was, wished you could visit that exact spot yourself, or found yourself itching to share a great photo with somebody -- but you were away from a computer, we've got two new features on Picasa Web Albums to help you out. First, we're excited to let you know about 'Map My Photos' -- it lets you show exactly where you took your favorite snapshots. When you share an album with friends, they can see your best photos arrayed on a map (or even Google Earth). It's the perfect way to showcase a memorable road trip or a globe-trotting vacation.

Here's how to get started: when you create a new album, just fill in the optional 'Place Taken' field. You can even drag and drop individual photos directly onto a map, and use built-in Google Maps technology to pinpoint exactly where each was shot. For a quick peek at what the results look like, check out our test gallery.

But wait! There's more. We're also launching the first version of Picasa Web Albums built specifically for mobile devices. You already have a couple of pictures stuffed in your wallet, and maybe even a few wallpapers stored on your phone. But what about all those snapshots you can't carry around? With Picasa Web Albums for mobile devices, your favorite pictures are always with you. So next time you're at a loss for words when describing just how awesome, cute, or beautiful something really was, just grab your phone for visual backup.

Of course, the mobile version of Picasa Web Albums lets you keep track of photo updates from friends and family, too. Just click 'My Favorites' from the main screen to see the latest photo albums that your contacts have posted to Picasa Web Albums -- you can even post a quick comment on their photos, using your phone. Thumbnails and photos are automatically re-sized for your device's screen, so pictures look good and download fast. All you need to get started is a phone with a web browser and a data plan; learn more here.

As you enjoy your summer travels, remember to take plenty of snaps, and share the most beautiful places in the world (and don't forget to use your phone to show off pics from back home!).

More organizing tools



We collaborate using Google Docs & Spreadsheets so often at work that I now have more than 300 online documents. My project teams create shared documents and spreadsheets for everything: taking notes in meetings, planning product launches, analyzing usability studies, and much more. I also share docs with friends at work to plan baseball outings, and my fiancée and I are using a shared spreadsheet to help manage the guest list for our upcoming wedding. In other words, I'm one of many with a desperate need to organize all my online documents. Thankfully, I got the chance to design a new interface for Google Docs & Spreadsheets that includes folders and some convenient ways to quickly manage and access all my documents (and if you're like me, your own collection of online docs and spreadsheets is growing daily).

Now when you sign in, you'll see a new interface that lets you create personal folders for each of your projects, and drag your online documents and spreadsheets into them. On the lefthand side, you'll see a list of all the people you are collaborating with; click on any name to see all the files you're working on with them. To read more about this new interface, head over to the Docs & Spreadsheets blog.

The wedding planning continues -- but at least all the docs I need are now easier to find in a folder. Hope your own organizing is easier now too.

Introducing Google Earth Outreach



When Google Earth launched two years ago, it was fun to see that many people around the world used it to fly to their homes, navigate around their neighborhoods, and explore the planet. But when, in September 2005, it was used to rescue stranded victims in the aftermath of Katrina, we realized that Google Earth had the potential to be a significant tool beyond personal exploration. We began to see public-benefit KMLs created for things like environmental protection and global public health. A large number of non-profit groups started contacting us, asking good questions: can Google Earth help us illustrate our projects in a new and more compelling manner than text and slideshows? Are there methods or tools for importing our existing data into Google Earth? Can you tell us about any other non-profits who’ve been successful at using GE to reach a new audience, raise awareness, gain volunteers, inspire people into action, and create a tangible impact?

We listened carefully and worked on this for more than a year, and now, the answer is “Yes!” Today we're formally launching Google Earth Outreach, a program designed to empower non-profit groups with the resources, tools, and inspiration that they need to leverage the power of Google Earth for their cause. This is where public service groups can find online guides and video tutorials, inspiring case studies and a gallery of high-quality, public-benefit KML. We are offering free Google Earth Pro licenses to qualified non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations. And the Earth Outreach team is also moderating a forum to foster discussion, exchange ideas, and give technical support.

We're excited to see the birth of Google Earth Outreach, and it's truly an honor for us to be able to support the critically important work of these groups. As Dr. Jane Goodall said, "Only if we understand can we care. Only if we care will we help. With Google Earth Outreach, more people have the chance to see, to care, and then to act."

Update: Here's some video from our Google Earth Outreach event on Tuesday. Enjoy!

Why we're buying DoubleClick



In April we announced that we're buying DoubleClick, a leading company in the ad serving business. When we made this announcement, we gave some of our reasons. But because online advertising is complicated, I thought I'd step back a bit and offer some more context. If you're an expert, please bear with me, as some of what follows will seem elementary to those already familiar with the online advertising world. If you're not, I hope this gives you a better understanding of how advertisers, publishers, ad serving companies, agencies and other companies such as Google all fit into this exciting new mix.

A little history
In the earliest years, online ads were simple banner ads on websites. Advertisers would purchase these banner ads for those sites their customers would likely visit. A tire company, for example, would place banner ads on sites for automobile enthusiasts.

An innovation followed: Text-based ads targeted at search. Type “drip irrigation” into a search engine and up pop ads, or “sponsored links,” to gardening service and supply companies. This development made online advertising accessible to small advertisers for the first time. According to a May 2007 IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) study called the "Internet Advertising Revenue Report," text-based search ads now account for 40 percent of online ads. Google, Yahoo! and MSN are the leaders in managing this category of text-based ads.

The same IAB study notes that display ads account for roughly another 40 percent of online ad sales. Unlike text ads, these may incorporate 3-D graphics, full-motion video, sound and user interactivity. And the remaining 20 percent consists of other categories such as email, classified and lead-generation ads.

Three portals – AOL, Yahoo! and MSN – lead the industry in display ads. Each has more than $1 billion in annual display ad revenue. Content sites such as CNET and ESPN.com are also in the game. Google, however, has been a minor player in display advertising.

Meanwhile, ad serving companies such as DoubleClick, Atlas, and MediaPlex have been helping advertisers get their ads onto these sites and measure how effective the ads are. Since Google has never played in this space, acquiring DoubleClick will enable us to complement our search and content-based advertising capabilities. Its products and technologies will help to improve online advertising for consumers, advertisers and publishers.

By enabling our AdSense network to work with DoubleClick’s delivery mechanisms, for example, advertisers can obtain more precise metrics in order to judge the effectiveness of their campaigns. The combination of the technologies and expertise of Google and DoubleClick will help publishers better monetize their unsold inventory, thus helping to fuel the creation of even more rich and diverse content on the Internet.

What ad serving is
As you might expect, ad serving is the act of serving, or delivering, ads to websites. Google and DoubleClick play different but complementary roles in online advertising. Google primarily sells ads, and DoubleClick delivers (serves) ads. The relationship between Google and DoubleClick is analogous to the relationship between Amazon.com and Federal Express. Amazon.com makes money by selling a book to the consumer. Federal Express makes money by delivering it to the consumer.

For some perspective on the relative size of the ad serving business versus the online ad sales business, some industry estimates put the latter, globally, at about $20-30 billion. According to various eMarketer studies (available by subscription), estimates of ad serving, on the other hand, are many times smaller -- probably 20 times smaller, or even less.

How ad serving works
There are two types of ad-serving products: publisher and advertiser-agency. Publishers use ad-serving products to manage how and when the ads they have sold appear in their websites. For example, will the ad appear on the front page of the site, or on a subsequent page? The process of placing the ad on the appropriate page and in the appropriate size is managed by the publisher’s ad server.

In addition to placing ads in the right location at the right time, ad servers report on the performance of the ads. This is an absolutely vital function. Real-time performance reporting enables advertisers and agencies to change the content, and timing of ads almost on the fly. The value to the advertiser-agency of an ad-serving company such as DoubleClick is having a single place to measure and report on all online campaigns for ads that run on different sites across the web.

How Google and DoubleClick differ
Google makes money primarily by selling text-based ads to advertisers and their agencies. These are displayed on Google.com and partner sites through our AdSense program. We get paid when consumers click on the ads.

DoubleClick is in the ad-serving business and has two primary products. DART for Advertisers is an ad server that gives advertisers/agencies the tools to plan, deliver and report on their online ads. DART for Publishers gives publishers the tools to place ads on their site, optimize them, and assess placement to make the best use of their ad inventory. For the most part, DoubleClick is paid by advertisers and publishers to serve and report on ads. These are two vital and interrelated functions. Allowing agencies and advertisers to deliver ads in the right context and monitor their effectiveness maximizes the return on investment for a given ad or campaign. Ultimately, this leads to better and more relevant ads for the consumer.

Why we're buying DoubleClick
In summary, we're buying DoubleClick because:
  1. DoubleClick's products and technology are complementary to our search and and content-based text advertising business, and give us new opportunities to improve online advertising for consumers, advertisers and publishers.
  2. Historically, we've not allowed third parties to serve into Google's AdSense network, which has made it hard for advertisers to get performance metrics. Together, Google and DoubleClick can deliver a more open platform for advertisers, and provide the metrics they need to manage marketing campaigns.
  3. By combining Google's infrastructure with DoubleClick's knowledge of agencies and publishers, we can create the next generation of more innovative ad serving technology, one that significantly improves the efficiency and effectiveness of online advertising.
  4. To manage ad inventory, some of the largest publishers use DoubleClick DART for Publishers – but a good portion of it goes unsold. It's our view that the combination of DoubleClick and Google will help these publishers succeed by monetizing their unsold inventory.
We believe DoubleClick can help Google deliver better, more relevant display ads, which improves the online experience of consumers. From a technical perspective, Google will also be able to get web pages to load faster by reducing latency from ad servers. Publishers will benefit by making more money from remnant inventory and – as has been the case with other technologies we've acquired – we hope to make ad serving more accessible. Smaller publishers would get access to DoubleClick's ad serving technology, enabling them to better compete in the global marketplace.

Advertisers and agencies will benefit, too. AdSense will support certain ad tags so advertisers will be able to use a broader selection of formats in our ad network, improving ad relevance. And the experience for advertisers will be more efficient, because there will be an ad server that provides consolidated reporting and management of display ads on all properties and networks. More generally, we'll be able to use our technology and record of innovation to improve the quality of existing products in the marketplace. We intend to invest heavily in R&D and product development to respond to the demand from publishers, advertisers and agencies for better tools.

In short, Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick will benefit all parties in the online advertising business, including advertisers, publishers, agencies and, most importantly, consumers.

Monday, June 25, 2007

New dictionary translations



Google's automatic translation is handy for getting translations of complete sentences, paragraphs, and documents. But when you need to translate a single word, a bilingual dictionary can be very useful because it gives you translations for the many possible meanings a word might have. With that in mind, we've added dictionary translations to Google Translate. Now, for example, if you want to know how to say "play" in Spanish, you can use our dictionary translation and learn that depending on the context it can be "jugar", "tocar", or "obra", among others.

A smooth Apps move



Today, it becomes a lot easier for organizations and schools to start using Google Apps email services without leaving any of their valuable email data behind. Our new self-service mail migration tools enables administrators using the Premier and Education Editions to easily copy existing mail from an IMAP server over to Google Apps. Now businesses and schools can spend less time worrying about "maintaining infrastructure" and focus more on the things that matter most to them -- like healthcare or educating students.

One of the first organizations to test this out, Central Piedmont Community College, replaced its old email system for 30,000 users in just 3 weeks. And that process came down to 3 million emails flying from their server over to ours in just 24 hours -- more than 2,000 emails per minute, all without missing a beat.

Once you're part of the Google Apps family, you can be sure there are more exciting things to come. In the past month alone, we added five new improvements to make it even easier for organizations to share information and work together.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Google and open source OCR



From time to time, our own T.V. Raman shares his tips on how to use Google from his perspective as a technologist who cannot see -- tips that sighted people, among others, may also find useful. - Ed.

As someone who cannot see, I prefer to live in a mostly paperless world. This means ruthlessly turning every piece of paper that enters my life into a set of bits that I can process digitally. I scan in everything. Until now, I have relied on commercial OCR packages to convert these images into readable text. OCR is perhaps one of the areas where the benefits of Moore's Law are most evident; today, OCR can do remarkably well when handed a page image. Until now, my only dissatisfaction with the status quo in this area has been that commercial OCR engines afford me little flexibility with respect to training them to do better on documents that are specific to me.

The advent of our own open source OCR initiative, OCRopus (source code: Ocropus Sources) is a welcome change in this regard. I introduced support for OCRopus in Emacspeak recently, and the HTML output this produces compares favorably with output from commercial OCR engines, provided you place the page at the right orientation on the scanner. OCRopus' extensibility, and the ability to express the OCR as a structured HTML document makes it an ideal starting point for producing rich spoken output. The possibilities are enormous for people being able to collectively train, customize and improve an OCR engine.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Asia-Pacific Open House June 28th



We're hosting an Asia Pacific open house for engineers on Thursday, June 28 from 6-9pm on the Google campus in Mountain View. Ping Li from Accel Partners will moderate a panel discussion by the four directors of our engineering centers in India, Korea, Taiwan, and China. They'll talk about top tech trends in their respective markets, and we'll demo products developed in each location. Of course, there will be plenty of food & drink, and a raffle. This should be an informative networking event for Bay Area engineers and entrepreneurs with a technical background.

Agenda:
  • 6-6:30 pm - Registration, food, drinks
  • 6:30-8 pm - Panel discussion and Q&A
  • 8-9 pm - Product demo, networking, and a raffle drawing
If you're an engineer or an entrepreneur with a technical background who'd like to come, please email me at chong at google dot com for your invitation. Make the subject line "APAC Open House 2007" and include:
- name
- title
- affiliation/company
- contact info

We're looking forward to seeing you on the 28th.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Carbon neutrality by end of 2007



Climate change continues to be one of the biggest, most challenging problems our planet faces, and we know that a sustained global effort is needed if we're going to have any hope of reversing its effects. In that spirit, today we're announcing that Google will become carbon neutral by the end of 2007. This is an important step in our long-term pursuit of holistic environmental solutions.

Our plan to neutralize Google's carbon footprint includes three basic strategies:
- reduce energy consumption by maximizing efficiency;
- invest in and use renewable energy sources; and
- purchase carbon offsets for the emissions that we can't reduce directly.

To calculate our carbon footprint, we took into account emissions from purchased electricity, employee commuting, business travel, construction, and server manufacturing. In a partnership with the Environmental Resources Trust (ERT), we have independently verified this assessment, and will do so every year.

In order to meet our short-term goal of carbon neutrality, we have decided to purchase some carbon offsets. To be clear, we see carbon offsets not as a permanent solution but rather as a temporary tool which allows us to take full responsibility for our impact right away. By investing in projects elsewhere in the world that cut the overall amount of greenhouse gases, we can help reduce climate impact now while we develop more sustainable strategies for the future. When considering an offset project, we carefully examine the project's environmental integrity, its ability to be monitored and verified, and the impact that our investment will have in furthering that project's goals. In other words, we want to make sure that our offset funding directly enables the project, and that the carbon savings of the project are real.

As you may have read, Google already has several other environmental programs and initiatives in place. Last week we announced the Climate Savers Computing initiative to greatly improve computing energy-efficiency standards. (Make sure your next computer purchase is a compliant PC!) Transportation is another major area of focus. Our employee shuttle system provides a commute for more than 1,500 Googlers daily around the San Francisco Bay area, and several hundred more have also taken advantage of our rebate when they bought a fuel-efficient vehicle.

We're equally committed to finding and developing new green technologies and sources of energy. We just completed our solar panel installation in Mountain View, the single-largest corporate solar installation in the U.S. to date. We've also joined the World Resources Institute's Green Power Market Development Group, so we can work with other companies to make more green power available to everyone. And of course Google.org is working on creative new initiatives, including plug-in hybrid cars. In addition, we've set ourselves the ambitious goal of creating 50 megawatts of new renewable generation capacity--enough to power 50,000 typical U.S. homes--by 2012.

Still, we're only one company, so aside from improving our own practices, we want to do more to raise awareness and commitment worldwide. We feel we can best do this through our products and services, which reach millions of people every day. For example, Google Transit makes it easier than ever to find and use public transportation around the globe. New custom tabs on iGoogle bring climate news, energy-related talks on video from our @Google series and other environment-related content to your homepage. Google Maps users have created mashups to show possible coastal flooding if the sea level changes, or to map climate data for cities worldwide. And we're urging lawmakers to create clear public policies on important issues like energy-efficiency standards, increased funding for public research and development of energy technologies, and regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.

To learn more, visit our new site on energy initiatives, which details much of this work to date.

More sharing



We're pleased to announce that we've acquired the assets of Zenter, a company that provides software for creating online slide presentations.

You've heard us talk a lot about using the web to improve group collaboration and information sharing. These days, when you create a document -- whether it's a text document, a spreadsheet, or a presentation -- you usually want to share it, collect feedback, or communicate about it in some way. We on the Google Docs & Spreadsheets team focus on making this experience easier and more powerful for you. In particular, we're working to add presentation-sharing capabilities to Google Docs & Spreadsheets, and we're excited about the addition of Zenter's technology and team to that effort.

YouTube in 9 more domains



The YouTube community began life speaking English, but thanks to the uniquely expressive medium of video, today there is a global village of content makers and viewers. With a noteworthy number of YouTube visitors now coming from outside the U.S., it's high time we go multilingual.

Today at a Google press event in Paris, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen are announcing the launch of nine new domains in Brazil, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Ireland, and the UK.

In response to many requests, each new site is fully translated and localized for each country including content (Featured Videos, Director Videos, Promotions), as well as the interfaces, search, user support, and such community features as video ratings, sharing, and content flagging. And these new localized versions are built using Google search technology, so you can quickly find more of what you want to see. Perhaps best of all, you can continue to use youtube.com, or move to one of these localized sites -- and switch seamlessly between the two. Happy creating, viewing and sharing!

Update: Removed link to user content.

Monday, June 18, 2007

A clean energy update



Today Google.org is launching an exciting project that offers a glimpse of a smarter energy future: cars that plug into an electric grid powered by solar energy. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (“plug-in hybrids”) can achieve 70 -100 miles per gallon, quadrupling the fuel economy of the average car on the road today (~20 mpg). As we demonstrated at today’s event, plug-in hybrids can sell power back to the electric grid when it's needed most through vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology

As you may know, one of Google.org's core missions is to address climate change. In the U.S., transportation contributes about one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions –- with more than 60 percent of those emissions coming from personal vehicles. By accelerating the adoption of plug-in hybrids and vehicle-to-grid ("V2G") technologies, this new project, RechargeIT.org, aims to reduce emissions and dependence on oil while promoting clean energy technologies and increasing consumer choice. Linking the U.S. transportation system to the electricity grid maximizes the efficiency of our energy system. From these efforts, we believe the environment will benefit -- and consumers will have more choices to fuel their cars.

We've been working with Google engineers and Hymotion/A123Systems to build a small fleet of plug-in hybrids, adding an external plug and additional batteries to a regular hybrid car so that it runs on electricity with gasoline (or even better, biofuels) to extend the driving range for longer trips. Here's what it looks like:



Since most Americans drive less than 35 miles per day, you easily could drive mostly on electricity with the gas tank as a "safety net." Our goal is to demonstrate the plug-in hybrid and V2G technology, get people excited about having their own plug-in hybrid, and encourage car companies to start building them soon.

In the preliminary results from our test fleet, on average the plug-in hybrid gas mileage was 30+ mpg higher than that of the regular hybrids. In conjunction with Pacific Gas and Electric, we also demonstrated the bidirectional flow of electricity through V2G technology, and have awarded $1 million in grants and announced plans for a $10 million request for proposals (RFP) to fund development, adoption and commercialization of plug-ins, fully electric cars and related vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology. (Here's the full release.)

As for Google Inc., today the solar panel installation we announced last October is now producing clean, renewable electricity for our Mountain View, CA headquarters.



The system will offset peak electricity consumption at the solar powered offices and the newly constructed solar carports have charging stations for the plug-in hybrids. At 1.6 megawatts -- with an electricity output capable of powering approximately 1,000 average California homes -- the Google project is the largest solar installation on any corporate campus in the U.S. to date, and one of the largest on any corporate site in the world. To see how much electricity these panels are producing right now, visit our new performance monitoring site.

To learn more about the initiative, we encourage you to explore the rest of RechargeIT.org. And to see what others are saying about plug-in hybrids and V2G technology, be sure to watch this video.

Friday, June 15, 2007

This blog's M.O.



Just about 3 years ago, we launched this blog as a fast and direct way to reach Google users, friends and anyone else interested in our goings-on. Even though it's a blog from Google, it's by Googlers, not from a single executive (or founder). We've encouraged hundreds of people to write about news and ideas from all their respective corners of the company. A lot of the posts you read are news and updates about products, because that's what the bulk of Googlers work on. But with an eye towards transparency, we also share our positions on issues -- for example, our role in China, our perspective on digitizing books, our comment on a lawsuit. And occasionally we're keen to share snippets of our culture or highlight industry developments we find noteworthy.

Our communications team manages the blog, but consistent with our grassroots way of doing things, it's Googlers who propose content and write the posts (and likewise, develop new blogs). When it comes to editing copy, we aim for a very light touch -- focusing mainly on clarity of information, not sanitizing style.

Since this blog first appeared, another 52 Google blogs have also launched. At present, 18 of them are not in English, and we expect that number to grow as we expand around the world. All of these other Google blogs (the full list is on the righthand side of the main blog) have smaller readership because they are more tightly focused on the details of a specific product (like AdWords or AdSense or they represent Google in a country (including Poland and Brazil), or they speak to a niche audience, like librarians or webmasters. Typically they don't feature the same topical expanse we think will be of interest to most Google users.

In short, we're relying as always on the power of the Internet -- in this case, the incredibly easy-to-use publishing platform known as the blog -- to help interested folks understand how we work, and what we do. As new resources and media tools come into being, we want to make use of those too. One of these is the Google Channel on YouTube, where it's a priority to post videos and presentations by Googlers, including our executives, as quickly as we can following public events.

Through all of these means and others -- podcasting, video blogs, forums -- we plan to continue being as direct as possible with you concerning our news and views. So thanks for reading, and stay tuned.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The state of our video ID tools



Recent speculation and stories like this Wall Street Journal article or this Reuters report on YouTube's use of video identification tools made us think it would be useful to clarify what we’re doing.

We’ve been developing improved content identification for months, and we’re confident that in the not-too-distant future, we’ll unveil an innovative solution that will work for users and content creators alike. This is one of the most technologically complicated tasks that we have ever undertaken. But YouTube has always been committed to developing sustainable and scalable tools that work for all content owners.

Even though we haven’t given too many details, we’ve been hard at work. Earlier this year we implemented audio fingerprinting technology from Audible Magic, to help identify the audio content of music partners like Warner Music, Sony BMG, and Universal. Today we're experimenting with video identification tools, and will share with you a few core principles driving our technology development, past and present.

We are beginning tests on an automated system to identify and match specific videos. The technology extracts key visual aspects of uploaded videos and compares that information against reference material provided by copyright holders. Achieving the accuracy to drive automated policy decisions is difficult, and requires a highly tuned system. Once accuracy is achieved, the challenge becomes speed and scale to support the millions of people who use YouTube every day. We are working with some of the major media companies to test what we have developed. We’re excited about the progress so far, and we’re dedicated to making these tests successful, but as always with cutting-edge technologies, there’s no guarantee of success.

Now, when it comes to spotting pornography and graphic violence, and other content prohibited by our terms of use, nothing beats our community flagging. Once a user flags a video, we immediately review it and remove it if we find a violation. But our community can’t identify infringing content. We all know pornography and violence when we see them. But copyright status can only be determined by the copyright holder. That is because almost anyone who creates an original video has the copyright for that work, and such a wide range of copyright holders' preferences vary widely.

Some copyright holders want control over every use of their creation. Many professional artists and media companies post their latest videos without telling us, while some home video-makers don't want their stuff online. Some legal departments take down a video one day and the marketing department puts it up the next. Which is their right, but our community can’t predict those things, and neither can we. The same is true for technology. No matter how good our video identification technology gets, it will never be able to read copyright-holders’ minds.

If a content owner identifies material that she doesn’t want on YouTube, she can request its removal with the click of a mouse. If particular users repeatedly infringe copyrights, we terminate their accounts. We have long made a practice of creating a unique "hash" of every video removed for alleged copyright infringement and blocking re-uploads of the hash. We educate users on what is and isn’t permissible under the law. Our upcoming video identification system will be our latest way of empowering copyright holders, going above and beyond legal requirements.

We’ll continue our focus on delivering a great user experience. YouTube's no-fuss upload lets video artists collapse the gap between the creative moment and its worldwide publication. It helps our hundreds of media partners - as well as marketers and advertisers - spread their hottest work while it's still hot. And it enables presidential candidates participating in our YouChoose 2008 program to engage in a direct, open dialogue with voters, bringing transparency, access and authenticity to the political process. We’re carefully designing our new identification technologies to not impede those free and fast forms of expression.

In conclusion, a content management system has to have technology that provides high quality matching and detection, but it also has to apply business rules in ways that support the business objectives of partners while providing high quality user experiences. With the introduction of our video identification tools, YouTube will continue to be the leader in online video, and the premier destination for watching and sharing original videos worldwide. Now, back to work…

Update: Added direct link to Wall Street Journal story.

Is there a doctor in the family?



Before joining Google, I was a full-time primary care doctor. My time working with patients every day, hearing their stories and trying to help make them better, is an experience I will cherish forever. And about once a week, I still practice as an urgent care doctor at a county hospital. Based on these experiences, I have witnessed the problems patients face. One of the biggest ones I see is the difficulty patients have getting answers to the most basic questions, such as 'What tests and treatments should I know about if I have type 2 diabetes? Is the care I am getting on par with what most experts recommend?'

Many patients are comfortable letting their doctors worry about these questions for them. But I think patients get better care when they are more informed about generally accepted standards of care, and know more when talking to their doctors. Of course, I don't recommend that patients treat themselves. They can't simply do searches on the Internet, self-diagnose and treat. While there is an endless amount of information available online, it's difficult to know what is quality information and what is not. Patients need to see their doctors to get the right medical care. But better-informed patients recover faster, manage chronic illnesses better and may even avoid some illnesses altogether. And patients should feel in control of their situation.

I was recently reminded of these issues when I was hospitalized. I wanted to know more about the best treatment options for my situation, so I called a few doctor friends and got all the information I needed. Because of that, I think I recovered faster, and I certainly felt better as a more active participant in my own care. But most people don't have this kind of access to medical expertise.

In addition to my medical training, I studied medical informatics before coming to Google. I learned about computer systems that are designed to remind doctors about tests and treatments that their patients should have. I can say from personal experience that it is difficult to remember everything I should be doing for my patients, or to read every new article on the latest test or drug. These systems help doctors get the information they need to deliver quality care.

I believe patients should also have access to these kinds of systems so that they can help make sure they are getting the best care. If you search online to learn more about diabetes, it should be easy to find out what the generally recommended treatments and tests are.

Now I'm part of the team here working on health and we're trying to do something about this problem. Adam Bosworth, who is leading our team, has alluded to this in previous posts such as this one as well as in some speeches he has made at healthcare conferences.

We have been talking to many medical experts to understand what the best guidelines are, and how we can determine which ones apply in different circumstances. If such guidelines were more available to patients, they might be able to, by inputting information such as age, gender or medications, learn about recommended screening tests and other preventive measures, or about harmful drug interactions. (The problem of drug interactions is reason enough to work on this: in the U.S. alone, it is estimated that over 770,000 people are injured or die each year in hospitals from adverse drug events. Many of these medical errors could be prevented if patients or doctors checked for drug interactions.)

As we work on this project, we are of course paying very close attention to privacy. If such a tool were available, you should be able to enter as much or as little information as you want -- and it's important that you be allowed to access this kind of information without entering your name, insurance number or other personal information. We also think that if you want to save this information, you should have that choice so you can access it later or share it with your doctor.

When I help my loved ones navigate an illness or get up to date with screening tests, I wonder how those who don't have a doctor in the family manage their health. When a patient comes to see me with a pretty good understanding of their treatment options, I find that refreshing. But really, I wish it were just easier for patients to get the information they're looking for. While we don't expect to develop the perfect solution, I hope that some day we'll be able to offer something that is a step in the right direction.

The CNN/YouTube debates



Back in March we kicked off our You Choose '08 program, a hub of political channels on YouTube designed to educate, empower, and connect voters and presidential candidates through the power of online video. Since then, millions of people have checked out the candidates' YouTube Channels, and thousands have communicated directly with those running for President via ratings, comments and video responses.

Today we're announcing another way that YouTube is leveling the political playing field: The CNN/YouTube debates. For the first time in history, the questions asked in both a Democratic and a Republican primary debate will come straight from YouTube videos. More info here:



Needless to say we're really excited about this, but we'll be even more excited when the video questions start to roll in. So here's your official call to action: Create your own video debate questions for the presidential candidates and upload your submissions at www.youtube.com/debates.

Then tune in to CNN on July 23 for the Democratic debate to see if your question is asked. Also keep your eyes on the YouTube Blog and on this one, as we'll have much more to share with you in both places between now and the election.

Debate video guidelines:
• Keep it quick—your question should be less than 30 seconds.
• Make it look good—we're looking for high audio and video quality.
• Choose your focus—you can address one or all of the candidates on a single issue.
• Be creative—we'll appreciate unique settings and approaches.
• Be personal—we want your perspective and general relevance.
• Please note—all videos are subject to the YouTube Terms of Use.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Climate Savers Computing Initiative



Last fall we talked about our work on efficient power supplies in the capable hands of Ben Jai, Ken Krieger and the rest of our power supply team. Since then, we've become involved in several projects focused on environmental stewardship. Today, for example, together with Intel, Dell, EDS, the EPA, HP, IBM, Lenovo, Microsoft, the World Wildlife Fund, and more than 20 other companies, we announced the Climate Savers Computing Initiative. After working on this initiative over the last few months, we're delighted to join with so many organizations to form this new group. In particular this project should speak to every business with computers.

Believe it or not, a typical desktop PC wastes over half the power delivered to it — and, when turned on, most desktops waste power — even when they're not in use. Through some very simple measures, there is an opportunity to save 70-80% of the power currently consumed by desktop computers. With a more efficient power supply, more efficient DC-to-DC converters, and power-management features turned on, that same desktop PC would save as much as 80% of the energy currently consumed! That energy savings means dollars, of course; it also prevents emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants.

This initiative is one example of ways we as a company can work to reduce our environmental impact. A few others we've undertaken:
- our fuel-efficient vehicle incentive project
- our corporate shuttle program for commuting to work
- organic, locally-sourced food in our café
- our corporate solar panel installation

There are always more measures to take, of course. Through Google.org, for example, we are exploring innovative technologies that promise to reduce our collective impact on the environment. And as with Climate Savers, we hope to set an example as well as use the convening power of Google to further more environmental initiatives.

All of these sorts of programs, and more, are what's needed. As ecologist Rachel Carson put it, "Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species — man — acquired significant power to alter the nature of his world." Let's work together now to alter things for the good of the planet.

Monday, June 11, 2007

How long should Google remember searches?



Over the years we’ve taken many steps to protect our users' data and privacy. For example, we have resisted overly-broad government subpoenas; we've designed our services to give users a choice between personalized services and general services; and we've engineered our services to allow users to see and control how much data they wish to share with us. Recently, we took another important step to improve our privacy practices by announcing a new policy to anonymize our server logs after 18 to 24 months, becoming the first leading search company to publish a data retention policy. We also posted here to explain the factors that guided our decision to retain server log data for 18 to 24 months.

The Article 29 Working Party, an advisory panel composed of representatives from all of the E.U.'s national data protection authorities, has sent us a letter in response to our commitment to anonymize server logs. In it, they're asking us to provide further information about our new policy, and to explain why we feel that the time period of 18 to 24 months is “proportionate” under European data protection principles. For some time, we've discussed many things with the Working Party, ranging from issues raised by Google products like Gmail and Google Desktop to industry-wide concerns, such as the challenges of protecting privacy in the Web 2.0 era. We’re pleased that this most recent letter from the Working Party acknowledges our ongoing engagement with the data protection community and, in particular, our "readiness to consult with it [the Working Party] in contrast with a relative lack of engagement by some of the other leading players in the search engine community”.

In the spirit of transparency, we're publishing our response to the Working Party's letter. The Internet is a global medium, and the principles at stake -- privacy, security, innovation and legal obligations to retain data -- have an impact beyond Europe, and outside of the realm of privacy. These principles sometimes conflict: while shorter retention periods are good for privacy, longer retention periods are needed for security, innovation and compliance reasons. We believe we’ve struck a reasonable balance between these various factors. Our policies are consistent with EU data protection laws, which acknowledge the need to set data retention periods that are proportionate and that enable companies like Google to comply with legal requirements.

We have a legitimate interest in retaining search server logs for a number of reasons:
  • to improve our search algorithms for the benefit of users
  • to defend our systems from malicious access and exploitation attempts
  • to maintain the integrity of our systems by fighting click fraud and web spam
  • to protect our users from threats like spam and phishing
  • to respond to valid legal orders from law enforcement as they investigate and prosecute serious crimes like child exploitation; and
  • to comply with data retention legal obligations.
After considering the Working Party's concerns, we are announcing a new policy: to anonymize our search server logs after 18 months, rather than the previously-established period of 18 to 24 months. We believe that we can still address our legitimate interests in security, innovation and anti-fraud efforts with this shorter period. However, we must point out that future data retention laws may obligate us to raise the retention period to 24 months. We also firmly reject any suggestions that we could meet our legitimate interests in security, innovation and anti-fraud efforts with any retention period shorter than 18 months. We are considering the Working Party's concerns regarding cookie expiration periods, and we are exploring ways to redesign cookies and to reduce their expiration without artificially forcing users to re-enter basic preferences such as language preference. We plan to make an announcement about privacy improvements for our cookies in the coming months.

As we build new products and services, we look forward to continuing our discussion with the Article 29 Working Party and with privacy stakeholders around the world. Our common goal is to improve privacy protections for our users.

TechnoServe in Tanzania



Google.org supports efforts to promote economic development in developing countries. From time to time we invite guest bloggers from grantee organizations to tell us about their work.

Today in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, TechnoServe and Google.org launched a national business plan competition called "Believe, Begin, Become". The program is designed to help Tanzanian entrepreneurs develop skills, obtain seed or expansion capital and establish the networks that help transform their business ideas into successful enterprises that create jobs and other income sources that transform the lives of all Tanzanians.

We know, from our experience in Latin America and other African countries, what this kind of program can provide to entrepreneurs, who gain not only immediate benefits but a crucial business network that carries on long after the competition ends.

Our Organizing Committee colleague David Bulengo puts it this way: “The network of professionals and business leaders involved with Believe Begin Become will allow a new generation of young entrepreneurs the chance to learn from their experience and to create wonderful business opportunities.”

If you would like to get involved, please get in touch.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Spice up your schedule with the Google Calendar gallery



Don't you think that calendars should be more than lists of appointments and meetings? Well, we think an online calendar should be filled with what interests you most, which is why we just unveiled the Google Calendar gallery. Those of you with Google accounts and your friends (who might not have one) can create, share and save your favorite upcoming events directly in Google Calendar. Now you can find all sorts of interesting schedules to add to yours, like these:
Atlantic Records - See your favorite musical artist's concert schedules.
Cordless Records - Find out where the latest independent artists are playing.
TLC - Keep up to date on new shows on the TLC Channel.
Disney - Plan your family vacation around special events at Disneyland.
Eventful - Track fun events in your local area.
Jambase - Know which live music acts are coming to your area.
NBA - Follow your favorite basketball team, and never miss a game.
Netflix - Find out when your favorite new movies are available on DVD.
Orbitz Deals - See special travel deals next to your personal calendar.
Zvents - Gather ideas for things to do this weekend.



The new Google Calendar gallery makes it easy to fill your days with events that you care about and don't want to forget. So take a look around and see if there's something that interests you. Maybe you can even find a perfect excuse to duck out of the office a bit early on Friday. We won't tell!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Feeds on a plane!



With last week's launch of Google Gears, we're happy to let you know that Google Reader is the first Google web application made for online and offline viewing. If you're not familiar with Google Reader, it's a feed reader for getting updates from your favorite blogs and news sites.

Now, you can read these updates whether you're on or offline. It's easy to read today's financial news from the New York Times on the train, or catch up on your favorite blog while on a plane 35,000 ft. above the Atlantic.

Once you've installed Google Gears, you can download your latest 2,000 items so they're available even when you don't have an Internet connection.



To get started, simply click the "Offline" link in the top right of Google Reader.

Please note, though, that the current version of Google Gears is a developer release, which means you may notice a few kinks here and there. We'll be working hard to iron those out over the coming months, and as always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions as we look to make Google Reader better every day.

What U.S. immigration policies mean to Google



Our experience with American immigration policy dates back to one of our founders: when he was six, Sergey Brin's parents fled the Soviet Union in 1979 and settled in the United States. Today, there are literally hundreds of examples of immigrants and non-immigrant foreign workers playing a vital role in our company.

In particular, employees who are holders of H-1B visas -- which allow foreign-born workers with specialized skills to work in the U.S. on a temporary basis -- have helped lead the development of Google News and orkut. Immigrants from countries like Canada, Iran, and Switzerland now lead our business operations, global marketing, global business development, and data infrastructure operations. Without these talented employees and many others, Google would not be where it is today.

As Congress grapples with various immigration reform proposals, Laszlo Bock, our Vice President of People Operations, testified today before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration about the practical impact that the U.S. immigration system has on Google. (Laszlo's mother Susan, who fled Communist Romania when Laszlo was a child, was there too. She was welcomed by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, the chair of the committee, and she received an ovation from everyone present at the hearing.)

In his testimony, Laszlo said that, due to limits on the number of H-1B visas, Google is regularly unable to pursue highly qualified candidates. This year, an estimated 133,000 visa applications were filed by H-1B candidates in the first two days of the filing period for only 65,000 available spots. Over the last year alone, the artificially low cap on H-1B visas has prevented more than 70 Google candidates from receiving H-1B visas. Therefore, Laszlo said, "We would encourage Congress to significantly increase the annual cap of 65,000 H-1B visas, to a figure more reflective of the growth rate of our technology-driven economy." He also urged Congress to address the backlog of employment-based green cards for highly skilled workers.

Check out the full text of Laszlo's testimony or watch the video of his opening remarks to the committee below.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Adding more flare



As you know, we're constantly looking for ways to identify and offer new tools for content creators and website publishers. Likewise, we constantly aim to give AdWords advertisers broader distribution to an even wider audience of users. For these reasons, we're very pleased to tell you that we've just acquired FeedBurner.

For those of you who aren't bloggers, podcasters, or feed creators, Chicago-based FeedBurner is a leading provider of feed distribution and management tools. A web feed is a way for online publishers to syndicate their content and deliver it straight to readers. Each day, FeedBurner delivers feeds to millions of users around the world and offers unique and useful tools for publishers to analyze, optimize, and monetize their content. Further, FeedBurner offers a feed advertising platform for advertisers to reach engaged feed readers through targeted in-feed ads and innovative techniques like RSS feed-driven ads.

We're excited to continue offering the exceptional tools of FeedBurner to content creators throughout the world, and our teams will work together to improve the experiences of feed users, advertisers, and publishers. You can sign up for FeedBurner's services and take advantage of their feed tools and features immediately.

Update: If you're interested, listen to the 45-minute audio file of our press call today with FeedBurner CEO Dick Costolo. (It takes a minute to load.)