Friday, May 30, 2008
We hosted Google I/O at the Moscone Center in San Francisco this week, with 3,000+ developers in attendance. They took advantage of nearly 100 in-depth technical sessions, on-site massage therapists, and 3,500 pounds of assorted snacks (including 395 pounds of M&Ms and 190 pounds of Gummi Bears).
While we can't embed snacks or massages directly into this browser -- we're hoping the Gears team will make this possible next year -- presentations will be posted to Google Code shortly. In the meantime, feel free to check out the Google I/O keynote:
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
It has been a year since the launch of Google Gears, and we wanted to offer a glimpse into what's changing, and what's ahead.
First of all, to better reflect the open nature of this project, we've decided to rename ourselves. Henceforth, the project will be simply "Gears." We want to make it clear that Gears isn't just a Google thing. We see Gears as a way for everyone to get involved with upgrading the web platform.
Our first year focused on offline-enabling applications, but that was only the beginning. Our broader goal has always been to close the gap between web apps and native apps by giving the browser new capabilities. There is no shortage of web application pain points to be addressed! In its second year, Gears will begin to tackle some of these problems.
On the applications front, there have been a number of exciting developments. Today, MySpace is launching enhanced functionality for MySpace mail using Gears. They are using the original Gears Database API with Full Text Search to enable fast and easy search and sort capabilities. The latest build of WordPress also integrates Gears, to improve performance, and to let users manage their blogs offline. And as many of you know, the Google Docs team added offline capabilities just a few weeks ago.
Gears remains a completely open source project. We strongly support web standards, and we continue to work with the W3C and WHATWG committees to help define standards for browsers.
Finally, we want Gears to be available to everyone, regardless of platform or browser. To that end, we are currently adding Firefox 3 and Safari support. And Opera is working to support Gears on both desktop and mobile. These new platforms will nicely complement our current set: Internet Explorer and Firefox, across Windows, Mac, Linux, and even Windows Mobile.
We're very excited about our progress this past year, and we have even bigger plans for 2008. All of you are welcome to jump in and join our fledgling community -- we're helping to push the web forward, and it's a lot of fun! :)
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
The Google Mini has been making its way across the globe, reaching thousands of businesses that have taken to our little blue box, and along the way picking up suggestions for improvement from devoted users. As a result we've just introduced to the Mini three greatly requested features that can make search inside businesses even more powerful. Finding the most up-to-date and authoritative document within your company has never been easier now that you can search for documents filed in shared drives and weight documents by date or value. We've also added support for six new languages (Basque, Catalan, Galician, Greek, Hungarian, and Polish).
We're listening, so keep those suggestions coming.
Read more about the new Mini features on the Google Enterprise Blog.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
We're now entering the third week of Google's Treasure Hunt competition, a puzzle contest designed to test your knowledge of computer science, networking, and low-level UNIX trivia. Last week we posted the second puzzle. This week's puzzle is set to be released on Tuesday, May 27 at 10 a.m. PDT. We'll also be featuring our brand-new San Francisco office along with it.
We'll be giving out a few prizes for the fastest contestants to complete each question. There will also be a grand prize for the contestant who correctly answers all four questions in the shortest cumulative time (time is defined as the time between the question's release and the submission of the correct answer). The previous puzzles will still be accessible off of the main page.
The treasure is within reach, so grab yer shovels and keep on diggin', mateys!
Friday, May 23, 2008
San Francisco has been attracting freethinking writers, artists, instigators, and entrepreneurs for more than 150 years. The people who built, experienced, and created this diverse place have all shared a passion for innovation and extending beyond the conventional. San Franciscans kicked off the gold rush and made the first pair of jeans, received the first transcontinental telephone call in 1915, came together for the Summer of Love and the original Burning Man, and played a major role in the dot-com and Web 2.0 booms. The City always seems to blaze new trails.
Sure, our summers are cool and foggy, our hills are steep, and our streets are twisty. But SF Googlers think this is the perfect place to work. Earlier this year, our own "Father of the Internet" Vint Cerf launched the office by inspiring the assembled engineers to think about today's challenges at scale, speaking about the challenges of interplanetary IP communication, the future of the Internet, and who's to blame for IPv4's limited address space (Vint says it's him).
We in the SF office contribute to a broad cross-section of the Google world in a number of ways: we write software for managing big computing clusters and keeping them efficient; we analyze vast piles of data to understand how the web works; we engineer reliability, scalability, and security into the apps many people rely on; we share our tools and methods with the open source community; we create internal productivity apps to support our engineers.
And that's just in engineering. The SF office also supports ad agency customers, local markets and classifieds. We're home to our philanthropic arm Google.org, and we make time to participate in community volunteer programs through our employee-created Google Cares-SF program. We have an active green committee, access to the GFleet car-share program, and we're the first plastic-bottle–free office among all of the Googleplexes.
Here's what some of us have to say about working here:
While we may be new, Google SF is growing fast. With close proximity and access to Mountain View and the rest of the Silicon Valley, we span the best of worlds: local and global, campus and city, 'burbs and urban, highways and dirt roads. We're always looking for talented and passionate people to join our team, so if you want to be part of building the next big thing, we'd love to hear from you.
And in case you need another reason to come visit us in Shaky Town, Google I/O, our largest developer conference to date, takes place at the Moscone Center on May 28-29. It's not too late to register -- we hope to see you there.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Last week, I flew from our Phoenix office to Washington, D.C. to deliver our first U.S. seminar for small business. It's a simple and straightforward presentation about how Google tools can help small businesses establish a presence online, work more collaboratively and efficiently, and earn money from their websites through our AdSense program.
If you were able to catch a glimpse of our testimony in front of the U.S. House Small Business Committee a couple of weeks ago, you'll know that helping small businesses thrive on the Internet is something we're really passionate about. And we thought we should share the training first with one of the most entrepreneurial communities in the U.S.: Hispanic Americans. Working with the enthusiastic support of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the League of United Latin American Citizens, I'm happy to say that this first session is in Spanish. We call it "Google 101 para pequeñas empresas."
Check out the seminar in this video (in Spanish, with an introduction in English), or have a look at our small business resource page (in English) and (en Español).
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
A few months ago we launched Google Sites exclusively as part of Google Apps for companies and organizations that wanted to use the service on their own domains. Now we've made it easy for anyone to set up a website to share all types of information -- team projects, company intranets, community groups, classrooms, clubs, family updates, you name it -- in one place, for a few people, a group or the world. You can securely host your own website at http://sites.google.com/[your-website] and add as many pages as you like for free.
Getting started with Google Sites is easy. You can create different types of pages from scratch with the click of a button, and you can embed documents, calendars, photos, videos and gadgets directly into those pages. Similar to Google Docs, built-in editing tools allow for popular text and formatting changes to be made in a straightforward, WYSIWYG manner. Once your site is up and running, inviting people to edit or view your content is as simple as entering in their email address (of course, you can change access levels at any time). And you (or anyone who has editing privileges) can add or edit information whenever you'd like.
Here's a quick look:
Stay up to date with the latest news on our new Google Sites blog.
The results are in from last week's public vote for its favorite doodle from the Doodle 4 Google art competition, in which we invited students in grades K-12 to design the Google logo around the theme "What if...?"
Today, we're pleased to announce the winner: Grace (Suryung) Moon, a 6th grader from Canyon Middle School in Castro Valley, California. Her creation, "Up in the Clouds" was selected for its artistry and creativity as well as for its interpretation of our "What if...?" theme. Grace's doodle will replace our regular logo on our homepage tomorrow, May 22nd, and Grace will be awarded a $10,000 college scholarship and a $25,000 technology grant for her school in recognition of this achievement.
Spencer Norton ~ Ashbrook Elementary School, Lumberton, NJ
Rebecca Olene ~ Pioneer Ridge Freshmen Center, Carver, Minnesota
Gabriel Kitzman ~ Elbert School Dist. #200, Kiowa, Colorado
Thanks to everyone who participated in this year's Doodle 4 Google competition. We enjoyed seeing the creativity and imagination of students across the U.S. and hope you did too.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Search Quality is the name of the team responsible for the ranking of Google search results. Our job is clear: A few hundreds of millions of times a day people will ask Google questions, and within a fraction of a second Google needs to decide which among the billions of pages on the web to show them -- and in what order. Lately, we have been doing other things as well. But more on that later.
For something that is used so often by so many people, surprisingly little is known about ranking at Google. This is entirely our fault, and it is by design. We are, to be honest, quite secretive about what we do. There are two reasons for it: competition and abuse. Competition is pretty straightforward. No company wants to share its secret recipes with its competitors. As for abuse, if we make our ranking formulas too accessible, we make it easier for people to game the system. Security by obscurity is never the strongest measure, and we do not rely on it exclusively, but it does prevent a lot of abuse.
The details of the ranking algorithms are in many ways Google's crown jewels. We are very proud of them and very protective of them. By some estimate, more than one thousand programmer/scientist years have gone directly into their development, and the rate of innovation has not slowed down.
But being completely secretive isn’t ideal, and this blog post is part of a renewed effort to open up a bit more than we have in the past. We will try to periodically tell you about new things, explain old things, give advice, spread news, and engage in conversations. Let me start with some general pieces of information about our group. More blog posts will follow.
I should take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Udi Manber, and I am a VP of engineering at Google in charge of Search Quality. I have been at Google for over two years, and I have been working on search technologies for almost 20 years.
The heart of the group is the team that works on core ranking. Ranking is hard, much harder than most people realize. One reason for this is that languages are inherently ambiguous, and documents do not follow any set of rules. There are really no standards for how to convey information, so we need to be able to understand all web pages, written by anyone, for any reason. And that's just half of the problem. We also need to understand the queries people pose, which are on average fewer than three words, and map them to our understanding of all documents. Not to mention that different people have different needs. And we have to do all of that in a few milliseconds.
The most famous part of our ranking algorithm is PageRank, an algorithm developed by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who founded Google. PageRank is still in use today, but it is now a part of a much larger system. Other parts include language models (the ability to handle phrases, synonyms, diacritics, spelling mistakes, and so on), query models (it's not just the language, it's how people use it today), time models (some queries are best answered with a 30-minutes old page, and some are better answered with a page that stood the test of time), and personalized models (not all people want the same thing).
Another team in our group is responsible for evaluating how well we're doing. This is done in many different ways, but the goal is always the same: improve the user experience. This is not the main goal, it is the only goal. There are automated evaluations every minute (to make sure nothing goes wrong), periodic evaluations of our overall quality, and, most importantly, evaluations of specific algorithmic improvements. When an engineer gets a new idea and develops a new algorithm, we test their ideas thoroughly. We have a team of statisticians who look at all the data and determine the value of the new idea. We meet weekly (sometimes twice a week) to go over those new ideas and approve new launches. In 2007, we launched more than 450 new improvements, about 9 per week on the average. Some of these improvements are simple and obvious -- for example, we fixed the way Hebrew acronym queries are handled (in Hebrew an acronym is denoted by a (") next to the last character, so IBM will be IB"M), and some are very complicated -- for example, we made significant changes to the PageRank algorithm in January. Most of the time we look for improvements in relevancy, but we also work on projects where the sole purpose is to simplify the algorithms. Simple is good.
International search has been one of our key focus areas in the past two years. This means all spoken languages, not just the major ones. Last year, for example, we made major improvements in Azerbaijani, a language spoken by about 8 million people. In the past few months, we launched spell checking in Estonian, Catalan, Serbian, Serbo-Croatian, Ukranian, Bosnian, Latvian,
Another team is dedicated to new features and new user interfaces. Having a great engine is necessary for a great car, but it is not sufficient. The car has to be comfortable and easy to drive. The Google search user interface is quite simple. Very few of our users ever read our help pages, and they can do very well without them (but they're good reading nevertheless, and we're working to improve them). When we add new features we try to ensure that they will be intuitive and easy to use for everyone. One of the most visible changes we made in the past year was Universal Search. Others include the Google Notebook, Custom Search Engines, and of course, many improvements to iGoogle. The UI team is helped by a team of usability experts who conduct user studies and evaluate new features. They travel all over the world, and they even go to people's homes to see users in their natural habitat. (Don't worry, they do not come unannounced or uninvited!)
There is a whole team that concentrates on fighting webspam and other types of abuse. That team works on variety of issues from hidden text to off-topic pages stuffed with gibberish keywords, plus many other schemes that people use in an attempt to rank higher in our search results. The team spots new spam trends and works to counter those trends in scalable ways; like all other teams, they do it internationally. The webspam group works closely with the Google Webmaster Central team, so they can share insights with everyone and also listen to site owners.
There are other teams devoted to particular projects. In general, our organizational structure is quite informal. People move around, and new projects start all the time.
One of the key things about search is that users' expectations grow rapidly. Tomorrow's queries will be much harder than today's queries. Just as Moore's law governs the doubling of computing speed every 18 months, there is a hidden unwritten law that doubles the complexity of our most difficult queries in a short time. This is impossible to measure precisely, but we all feel it. We know we cannot rest on our laurels, we have to work hard to meet the challenge. As I mentioned earlier, we will continue providing you with updates on search quality in the coming months, so stay tuned.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Today we hosted an informal gathering -- a factory tour of sorts -- to offer a glimpse into what we think is most exciting about search, and where innovation is most likely to come from. We also gave an update on Google Health.
On the search front, we wanted to share news about the way we think search is expanding. When we talk about search, we mean images, news, finance, books, local, and geographical information as well as web search. These media types are becoming more and more integral in our core universal search, but each presents its own challenges, innovations, and triumphs. Today R.J. Pittman, Director of Search Properties, showed some of the amazing advances we've made in image search -- we now offer an early form of face recognition on advanced search, for example -- as well as how ads might work to enhance the user experience on image search. He also demonstrated the interesting innovative technologies that Google News has deployed to support features like quotes from newsmakers and better quality search for local news.
Carter Maslan, Director of Local Search Quality, talked about our Geo products (Maps and Earth and their features) and the fact that they represent a considerable search problem: how do you take all of the information about the physical world and make it searchable? How do you label disputed borders? How can Street View help you find where you are going? Google Earth has helped archaeologists find things they've looked for for years (i.e. a Roman villa in someone's backyard). User-generated content is the rage right now, but in addition to entertaining shared videos and photos, the user-generated content that we're seeing on geo products is profoundly useful and helps us better understand the world.
Then, we turned to core search quality and got the latest update on web search from Johanna Wright, Director of Search Quality. It's amazing to me how sophisticated web search has become in such a short period of time. We've accomplished a lot with universal search this past year by bringing new form and function to our results page. Now, our search quality team is turning its attention toward the ever-elusive "user intent" ("this is what I typed, here's what I meant"). This will help us make universal search even more useful. You'll get pictures or maps when that's what you meant. Understanding user intent also helps us break down language barriers and find the best possible answer regardless of what language it's in or where it lives on the web.
In terms of new products, we made Google Health publicly available. It offers users a safe and secure way to collect, store, and manage their medical records and health information online. How many of us have touched, or even seen, our medical records? In this day and age of information, isn't it crazy that you don't have a copy of your medical records under your control? You could use those records to develop a better understanding of your health and ultimately get better care. It's your data about your own health; why shouldn't you own and control it?
Back in February, I wrote about how Google Health will harness the power of the Internet to put users in control of their own medical records. Data will stay with you -- if you change doctors, want a second opinion, if you're traveling -- and not stay siloed or stuck in files or databases that you can't get to. To break down these information silos, we launched Google Health today with several partners and third party services already integrated. These partners are as committed as we are to solving this urgent need. Our flagship partners include everyday brand names such as Walgreens, Quest Diagnostics and Longs Drugs, to name just a few.
In addition to helping you get better control of your medical information, we've also put strong privacy policies in place to keep your information safe and private. (Read more about this on our public policy blog.) There's a lot left to do in health -- literally thousands of partnerships to forge and petabytes of data to move around -- but we're looking forward to hearing feedback from early Google Health adopters about our first step.
Unrelated to Google Health but in the interest of helping people get healthier, we launched our Go for Good campaign with the Cleveland Clinic. The Walk for Good iGoogle gadget encourages you to be good to yourself by walking regularly and tracking your progress. If you finish week 15 of the program by October 25th this year and have completed at least half of the total walking program by then, you can vote to tell us which of the health charities from our list should receive part of a $100,000 donation.
Updates: Added links to partner sites and related public policy blog; embedded webcast from the event.
One week ago, an earthquake of 7.8 magnitude struck in Sichuan. Everyone in China was shocked and then heartbroken as reported deaths climbed from 10,000 to 20,000 to more than 32,000 people. The death toll is still rising, and the number of injured and missing is many times greater.
But the Chinese people have faced this disaster with resilience, compassion, and courage. There have been non-stop airlifts, blood donations, and rescue missions. One bold executive drove hundreds of miles in his jeep, started digging, and saved several lives. Taxi drivers stopped carrying passengers and drove to affected areas to help. One hundred thousand brave soldiers risked (and some gave) their lives to look for every possible survivor. Here in Beijing more than a thousand families have volunteered to adopt children who have lost their parents. Everyone is eager to help -- and that includes Googlers.
Within hours of the earthquake, our China-based teams pulled together to use Google's resources and technology to help. At the request of the government, we obtained new satellite images of Sichuan province (Earth KML) to help them better focus their recovery efforts. We developed and launched a “lost loved one” search based on our Custom Search Engine (CSE). To populate the CSE index, hundreds of Googlers worked around the clock looking through published tables, hospital records, news reports, and community sites. We tuned our Chinese news search, video search, image search, blog search, and oneboxes. We also partnered to build community sites, and launched both homepage promotions and a map-based information page. Google China has an extremely dedicated and passionate team and I am deeply honored to work alongside them.
In addition to these efforts here in China, Googlers worldwide have also made substantial financial donations to the relief operations. As a company, we’ve committed $2 million for disaster relief and rebuilding, in addition to donating a large advertising budget for donation ads and public service announcements to aid organizations throughout the world.
We have also created a Google Checkout donations page so you can easily donate to Mercy Corps, which works with the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation, or the Tsinghua Foundation, which works with the Red Cross Society of China. Both organizations have assured us that all of the proceeds will go directly to earthquake relief.
Our efforts are but one piece of a giant effort now underway, bringing together the governments, private companies, NGOs and countless heroic individuals -– all striving to address this disaster as quickly and comprehensively as we can.
Please pray for the victims of the earthquake. May the injured rest and recover. May the survivors be resilient. May all of us learn from the Chinese people to turn our anxiety into courage, misery into compassion, and sorrow into love.
Today, we're announcing that Google is accepting third-party advertising tags on the Google content network in North America. This will empower advertisers to work with approved third parties to serve and track display ads, including rich media ads, across the Google content network through AdWords, giving them more options, flexibility and control over their campaigns.
We had not accepted third-party tags in the past because we didn't have a process for reviewing ads to make sure that they comply with our format standards and policies, which were established to ensure that ads we serve provide the best possible user experience. Now that's in place.
Ad servers, rich media ad agencies and research firms can now go through a certification process that ensures the highest level of advertiser service and user experience. In fact, advertisers and agencies now have the ability to serve ads and measure performance through these certified third parties:
- Advertiser ad servers: DoubleClick (DFA), Mediaplex
- Rich media agencies: DoubleClick Rich Media, Eyeblaster, EyeWonder, Interpolls, PointRoll, Unicast
- Research firms: Dynamic Logic, IAG Research, InsightExpress, Factor TG
Advertisers and agencies will now be able to manage their Google content network campaigns with the same systems they use for other online campaigns, which is helpful for determining the effectiveness of their online advertising mix. Further, this new service gives advertisers and agencies more opportunities to increase their return on investment and reach new audiences in informed and creative ways. The response from those testing early versions of the program have been positive.
For publishers on the network, this program offers a way to expand their advertiser base and enable advertisers to better understand the value of their inventory, with the goal of increasing their overall revenue. And they'll be able to show more compelling display ads to their visitors, enhancing their web experience.
Update: Check out our three-part video series to see how it all works.
Update 2: Review our list of certified third parties.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Avast, matey! As announced on the Google Australia blog, we've launched Treasure Hunt — a puzzle contest designed to test yer problem-solving skills in computer science, networking, and low-level UNIX trivia. You'll find the first of four brainteasers at http://treasurehunt.appspot
The second puzzle will be appearing soon — to be exact, 936266827 seconds before Y2K38, so keep yer eyes open. We'll also be highlighting our Mountain View mother ship, so step smartly, lads and lasses, and good luck!
In case ye missed out on the first week's puzzle, it's still available, so 'tis not too late! ARR! (Can you tell we can hardly wait to Talk Like a Pirate?)
Thursday, May 15, 2008
...and that's great news any way you say it. Language is one of the biggest challenges we have in making information universally accessible. As part of the machine translation team within Google Research, I'm happy to report we've been hard at work to overcome this challenge. We've recently added translation capabilities for 10 new languages to Google Translate, bringing the total to 23 languages. The newly featured languages include Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Hindi, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian and Swedish.
In addition, you can now translate text and web pages as well as perform cross-language searches between any two languages that we offer. For example, we now support Chinese translation to/from any of our languages (e.g., Chinese to French). So for those of you who will be following or attending the Olympics in Beijing this fall, you'll be able to more easily find and access content from local sources.
We've also added a "Detect Language" option to help you automatically identify the language of the text you're trying to translate. Keep in mind that the longer the text, the more accurate it will be. And for those of you who have embedded the Google Translate My Page gadget in your website to give it global reach, these new languages will automatically appear. Developers can also take advantage of these new languages in our AJAX language API.
While our system is quite good, we know it's not perfect. Machine translation is a hard problem, but it plays an important role in helping people access content they might otherwise be unable to read. We’re constantly working to improve the quality, so if you find a translation that’s not quite right, let us know by using our "Suggest a better translation” feature.
When we first announced YouTube Insight, our free video analytics tool for YouTube, we were excited to see just how users, partners, and advertisers might creatively use information about the viewing trends of their videos. We've since learned that some users and partners are modifying their upload schedules based on when they know their audience is tuning in, and advertisers are studying geographic traffic patterns to assess the effectiveness of regional ad campaigns.
Today we've added some new features to Insight. One is a new demographics tab that displays view count information broken down by age group (such as ages 18-24), gender, or a combination of the two, to help you get a better understanding of the makeup of your YouTube audience. We show you general information about your viewers in anonymous and aggregate form, based on the birth date and gender information that users share with us when they create YouTube accounts. This means that individual users can't be personally identified.
Insight now also displays statistics based on the combined total views of all the videos you've uploaded. Just as you can explore the view counts and popularity of individual videos, with this feature you can see your account's total number of views, and your relative popularity on YouTube compared to other users, based on geographic location.
As with Insight's other features, we hope this new information helps you learn how to create more compelling content that best engages the audiences you want to reach. You can find these new metrics under the "Demographics" tab within the Insight dashboard. Click on the "Insight" button under "Account > My Videos."
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
As we noted earlier, our Conference on Scalability is taking place in Seattle on Saturday, June 14. And now registration is open until June 6.
We have some great talks lined up from industry and academia, covering everything from scalability of storage, communication and transactions to scaling applications into the mobile space or, in one case, under water. Space is limited, so do sign up now.
We're excited to bring together so many talented people from the Seattle area. Looking forward to seeing you there!
Today we are pleased to announce our participation in BrightSource Energy's $115 million venture financing with a $10 million equity investment as part of Google's RE<C initiative.
Solar thermal energy generation is one of the key emerging industries addressing the changing global climate and we are excited about both of our current investments in solar thermal technology -- BrightSource Energy and eSolar.
In addition to making investments in renewable energy startups, we plan to make grants to support the research and development of enabling technologies to help the solar thermal industry achieve larger scale and lower costs. We believe that by supporting researchers and entrepreneurs taking different, ambitious approaches and risks to generate clean energy, we can help to accelerate progress and increase the collective economic value of these new clean energy industries.
We are also looking for a Head of Renewable Energy to run our internal R&D effort, which is focused initially on solar thermal power, advanced wind technologies, and enhanced geothermal systems.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
We care a lot about the health of the Internet. Recently, we've become increasingly concerned that IPv4 addresses — the numbers that computers use to connect to the Internet — are running out. Current projections place IPv4 address space exhaustion somewhere in late 2011, and while technologies such as Network Address Translation (NAT) can offer temporary respite, they complicate the Internet's architecture, pose barriers to the development of new applications, and run contrary to network openness principles.
That's why we're pleased to let you know that Google search is also available over IPv6 at ipv6.google.com (you'll need an IPv6 connection to view it). While IPv4 provides about four billion IP addresses — not enough to assign one to every one of Earth's more than six billion inhabitants — IPv6 provides enough address space to assign almost three billion networks to every person on the planet. We hope that by allowing every computer and mobile device on the network to talk to each other directly — an idea known as the "end-to-end principle" that was crucial to the original design of the Internet — IPv6 will allow the continued growth of the Internet and enable new applications yet to be invented.
With current operating systems such as Windows Vista, Mac OS X, and Linux providing high-quality support for IPv6, we hope it's only a matter of time before IPv6 is widely deployed. We will be doing our part.
Update: Changed three million networks to three billion networks in the second paragraph.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Have you ever wished you could share information and interact with friends while visiting some of your favorite websites? There are a number of great social networking sites out there that let you stay connected, but the rest of the web typically hasn't been social. Yet.
Site owners have been saying for a while that they would love to provide this functionality, but, frankly, it's been too hard to add social features. A lot of code has to be written to create a site where visitors can sign up and bring their friends along, form new friendships, and do engaging things together. And not to mention that if you're a site visitor, it's pretty inconvenient to create a new account and try to rebuild a network of friends each time you visit a site.
Enter Google Friend Connect. This new service, announced as a preview release tonight at Campfire One, lets non-technical site owners sprinkle social features throughout their websites, so visitors will easily be able to join with their AOL, Google, OpenID, and Yahoo! credentials. You'll be able to see, invite, and interact with new friends or, using secure authorization APIs, with existing friends from social sites on the web like Facebook, Google Talk, hi5, LinkedIn, orkut, Plaxo, and others. And quite simply, you'll be able to do things together.
Having faces show up at a site is not enough. Friend Connect lets site owners include OpenSocial apps made by a world of developers. We're providing a few apps, such as posts and ratings, to get the ball rolling. And many more will be provided by the OpenSocial community.
With this functionality, there's no end to the possibilities. A small site dedicated to mountain biking in Moab, for example, would be able to have members who could exchange maps, tips, and pictures of their latest rides. A stroke victims support site could help grieving family members assist one another by sharing advice. A politician's site could enable supporters to advocate their viewpoints. A musician's site could give fans the chance to interact full tilt with the band and one another.
Take a look at a few white-listed sites using Google Friend Connect: Ingrid Michaelson's official website, which includes the iLike music application, and Bible Apps, owned by an OpenSocial developer fully dedicated to his "Verses" application -- where people can post prayers and test their knowledge of the Bible as a quiz game with their friends.
If you run a website and would like to add social features, you can now sign up for the wait list and learn more by visiting www.google.com/friendconnect. We're going to keep things pretty limited at first so we can gather feedback from site owners, developers, and users, but, in the weeks ahead, we'll be reaching out to more site owners and adding more social apps to the gallery.
You can also learn more about Google Friend Connect, OpenSocial, and other social initiatives at Google I/O, a two-day developer gathering about building the next generation of web applications. It takes place May 28-29 at Moscone West in San Francisco. Register now for Google I/O at http://code.google.com/events/io/.
All of the major search engines use auctions to price ads. The reason is simple: there are millions of keywords that need to be priced and it would be impossible to set all those prices by hand.
Using an auction removes the burden of having to do this: the prices are determined by the auction participants. These auctions run every time a user enters a query, so they always reflect the current values that advertisers place on keywords.
The outcome of the ad auction is efficient in the sense that the available ad slots are awarded to those who value them mostly highly. The outcome is also equitable in that the price an advertiser has to pay is determined by the other advertisers -- those with whom it has to compete for slots.
But how do they actually work? There are several steps in the process.
1) Each advertiser enters a list of keywords, ads, and bids.
2) When a user enters a query, Google compiles a list of all the ads whose keywords match that query.
3) The list of ads is then ordered based on the bids and the Ad Quality Scores, which measure the relevance of the ad to the user.
4) The highest ranked ad is displayed in the most prominent position, the second highest ranked ad gets the second most prominent position, and so on.
5) If the user clicks on an ad, the advertiser is charged a price that depends on the bid and Quality Score of the advertiser below it. The price charged is the minimum necessary to retain the advertiser's position in the list.
A simple example is when all ads have the same Quality Score. In this case, the ads will be ranked by bids and the price an advertiser pays per click will just be the bid of advertiser below it in the ranking. Hence the amount that advertisers pay is no more than what they bid and typically less.
In the general case, where ad qualities differ, the price an advertiser pays for a click will depend on its Quality Score relative to the quality of the ad below it in the auction. Roughly speaking, an ad that has twice the quality of another ad will tend to get about twice as many clicks, and will only have to pay half as much per click as the competing ad.
Where does this Ad Quality Score come from? It was originally determined by historical click through rates but has been refined over the years using sophisticated statistical models. Using ad quality as a factor in ranking ads provides strong incentives to advertisers to make sure that they provide relevant ads to end users.
There are many additional tweaks on top of this basic design. For example, Google actually runs two auctions: one for ads at the top of the page, and one for ads on the side of the page. Only ads with particularly high quality are eligible to compete in the top-ad auction. Ads that have particularly low quality may be disabled, and not shown at all. Advertisers also can set and adjust their daily and monthly budget so as to cap their maximum spend.
But the essential structure is that outlined above: advertisers bid for position and pay just enough to beat their runner-up. Prices for keywords are, ultimately, determined by the advertisers.
A couple of months ago, we announced the Doodle 4 Google art competition and invited students in grades K-12 across the U.S. to redesign our logo around the theme "What if...?".
Since then, more than 16,000 kids across the country have been busy creating their doodles. It's been a lot of fun for us and the kids (see for yourself in this video):
Today we're excited to announce the state finalists and 40 regional winners. The thousands of wonderful entries made judging difficult, but with the help of experts at Young Audiences, Teach for America and reporters from across the country, we've managed to narrow the field to the very best.
Now it's your turn. Starting today, you can vote for your favorite doodle. Your votes will determine the four national finalists. Just make sure to vote soon: you only have until May 18th. The national winner will be announced and the winning doodle will replace our usual logo on the Google homepage on May 22nd.
Friday, May 09, 2008
Today at our Mountain View headquarters we're celebrating the one-year anniversary of an important project: our organic garden. Not only does it provide a stunning centerpiece for the central campus; it yields produce and herbs that are used daily in the cafes on campus. Although many Googlers would like to think of themselves as Renaissance men and women, a green thumb didn't exactly come as easily to some as C++ development might. Fortunately, the garden wasn't just an ambitious 20% project but rather, an initiative that we took on with the partnership of The Growing Connection.
The Growing Connection is a grassroots project of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The work of the Growing Connection originates with a humble earth box, a patented growing system that helps growers to cultivate produce with limited space and water. The project really has two parts: teaching people around the world, especially kids, how to cultivate their own food, and giving them a hands-on lesson in nutrition. The latter entails connecting growers so that kids growing corn on rooftops in Harlem can share their experiences with students planting earth boxes in Ghana.
To earmark today's anniversary, we had a little get-together at the Googleplex, complete with cucumber and lemon verbena infused waters, organic snacks and a few words from Robert Patterson, Senior Liaison Officer at FAO. "Like Google, Growing Connections combines growth and information," he observes. "So coming to Google has been a natural fit. We work from kids from all over--Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and the United States. They learn to like each other through food and realize that they're part of an actual solution for hunger and poverty."
Check out today's photo album:
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Last week at the annual meeting of our Online Sales and Operations (OSO) organization, a group of us (1,211 Googlers from around the world, to be exact) made an attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for the "largest cake decorating lesson." This isn't the first time we've taken our culinary talents to great heights, but it is the first time we've attempted to bake our way to a new record.
The event brought our teams together, united around something we all love: good food. We decorated a total of 171 cakes, using 800 pounds of butter cream and 500 pounds of fondant along the way. In addition to this fun foray into the sugar arts, the two-day conference featured a keynote speech by Al Gore, workshops with faculty from the Harvard Business School, and several panels on industry trends, including one on bloggers moderated by Kara Swisher.
Check out this video of the day:
We'll report back if (and hopefully when) we hear the news from Guinness.
Protecting employees from Internet threats is tough enough when they're at work, much less when they're on the road. Off-network users are particularly vulnerable to web threats because they must remember to connect via VPN for protection when they're away from the office.
Today we're making Internet security easier for people, wherever they may be working. Google Web Security for Enterprise, powered by Postini, provides real-time malware protection and URL filtering with policy enforcement and reporting. An additional feature extends the same protections to users working remotely on laptops in hotels, cafes, and even guest networks without requiring any action on their part.
Read more on the Enterprise Blog or get protected now.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
As you may have read, Google, Comcast, Intel Capital, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Trilogy Equity Partners have entered into an agreement to invest $3.2 billion in a new wireless broadband company. The new company will combine Clearwire's existing consumer WiMAX business with Sprint's broadband infrastructure and 2.5 GHz spectrum to create a new nationwide wireless broadband network. In addition to our $500 million contribution as part of the investment group, we will provide search and applications to the network's users, and will work with Clearwire to offer additional services and applications. This will include jointly creating an open Internet protocol to work with mobile broadband devices (including Android-powered devices) and implementing other open network practices and policies.
We believe that the new network will provide wireless consumers with real choices for the software applications, content and handsets that they desire. Such freedom will mirror the openness principles underlying the Internet and enable users to get the most out of their wireless broadband experience. As we've supported open standards for spectrum and wireless handsets, we're especially excited that Clearwire intends to build and maintain a network that will embrace important openness features. In particular, the network will: (1) expand advanced high speed wireless Internet access in the U.S., (2) allow consumers to utilize any lawful applications, content and devices without blocking, degrading or impairing Internet traffic and (3) engage in reasonable and competitively-neutral network management.
We're looking forward to seeing the Clearwire network take shape and begin to deliver benefits to users, and we will continue to look for new partners to promote openness and bring compelling applications and services to end users. There's more information on Clearwire and the transaction on Clearwire's site.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Over the past few days, we've followed the devastation left in the wake of Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar (Burma). News reports have tallied more than 22,000 dead with another 41,000 missing. We're extremely saddened by the loss of life due to this cyclone, and hope you'd like to help assist with the relief effort.
As we did after last fall's wildfires in Southern California, we've created a Checkout Donations page so you can easily donate to UNICEF or Direct Relief International. Both organizations are working to directly assist the victims on the ground in Myanmar.
To help visualize the damage, there are Google Earth layers showing an animation of the cyclone's path (using satellite imagery from the Naval Research Laboratory) and the extent of the flooding using data from the UN Institute for Training and Research Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNOSAT). We'll keep posting information to the Lat-Long Blog as more data comes available.
There are also several Google Grants non-profits working to provide relief to those affected. Save the Children currently has a 500-person staff in the area, while Oxfam America has committed $800,000 to help NGOs meet the immediate needs of people. World Vision and Doctors Without Borders are also taking action with two of the most vulnerable populations in the crisis: children and the injured. We are pleased to be working with and supporting these organizations that are contributing directly to cyclone relief. We encourage you to visit them and consider lending them your support, too. For more details on these organizations and other non-profits providing support for the victims of the disaster, visit the Google Grants blog.
In addition to the Google Grants non-profits, we want to highlight a few additional organizations we've gotten to know through Google.org's Predict and Prevent initiative, which supports a regional disease surveillance network with six Mekong Basin countries, including Myanmar. These on-the-ground organizations are working around the clock to deliver resources to the victims of Cyclone Nargis. CARE has more than 14 years’ experience in Myanmar and will assist hundreds of thousands of people in the coming days with their immediate needs (including water, food and shelter), as well as providing long term recovery solutions over the next few years. International Medical Corps is deploying an emergency response team that will help address urgent health needs in addition to distributing medical supplies in the hardest hit areas, and NetHope is working to provide technology and satellite communication solutions for many responding organizations.
The Google Earth and Maps team continues to make new imagery and relevant data available. The latest Lat Long Blog post shows how Direct Relief International is using Google Earth to plan its work, including a KML layer of health facilities in Myanmar. We continue to follow the political situation with concern and hope aid can flow rapidly to the people of Myanmar who need it so desperately.
Update: Added two new paragraphs at the end.
We have come a long way from our first Indic transliteration release to our current support for transliteration in 5 languages -- Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu -- for a broader set of Google products. We are also happy to release our very first English to Hindi translation service. Read on to understand how you can use these services to create, communicate and search in your language, and more.
- Type in your language easily on our Indic Transliteration Labs page.
- Add the transliteration gadget to your iGoogle page.
- Express your views and create more content: Blogger.
- Scrap your friends in your language: orkut.
- Find information: Google Suggest in your language.
Thanks to Eleanor Roosevelt, who in the 1950s persuaded Congress to recognize the importance of teachers with a celebratory day, today is set aside in the U.S. to honor our educators and acknowledge the contributions they make. I know that I speak for everyone at Google when I say that none of us would be where we are today without our teachers. On National Teacher Day, we salute you, the dedicated men and women who taught us much of what we know.
And we invite you to join us, too, at the next installment of the Google Teacher Academy at the Googleplex in Mountain View, California on June 25th. Back by popular demand, the GTA is an intensive one-day professional development event designed to help K-12 teachers get immersed in innovative technologies. Teachers near and far are invited to apply to spend the day with us getting your hands on tools like Google Earth, Google Docs and the entire Google Apps suite. Come, sit in classes, learn some new stuff, and rub elbows with some of your most creative contemporaries who, like you, are changing the world one student and one classroom at a time.
Today, Google for Educators is also pleased to announce the launch of the new Geo Education website, where you'll find oodles of information about Google Earth, Maps, Sky and SketchUp. In addition to spotlighting inspiring lessons from some pioneering teachers, we are also sharing quick tips and ideas for easy ways get started using geo tools in your classroom. Among other things, you'll learn how to take flyover tours of peaks, valleys and gorges, how to view constellations - even in the daytime - and how to make a 3D model of your very own school.
And last but not least, awhile back, we asked teachers to share stories about using Google Docs in the classroom. You told us about your students' collaborative writing projects, about class presentations where kids were engaged in dialog using the "chat" box throughout, and you mentioned being able to be involved in the creative process early on, instead of only seeing the final product. While we were reading, we realized that Docs can be somewhat intimidating to the uninitiated, so we created a getting started document specifically educators -- with tips for signing up, logging in, and working your way through a document -- both in-class and outside.
So happy Teacher Day! We hope you have an enjoyable day during which you get a hundred shiny apples and maybe even a hug from a kid who knows how much you do every day. And we hope to see you at the Googleplex in June, too.
Monday, May 05, 2008
Google has just begun supporting Unicode 5.1, less than one month after it was released. It's now available in search, so people speaking languages such as Malayalam can now search for words containing the new characters in Unicode 5.1.
Web pages can use a variety of different character encodings, like ASCII, Latin-1, or Windows 1252, or Unicode. Most encodings can only represent a few languages, but Unicode will handle anything from Chinese to French to Arabic. We have long used Unicode as the internal format for all the text we search: any other encoding is first converted to Unicode for processing. So we regularly update to each new version of Unicode (and relevant related standards like CLDR and BCP 47) to make sure we are current. Thus Unicode plays a key role in our mission.
Uptick in native Unicode webpages
Just last December there was an interesting milestone on the web. For the first time, we found that Unicode was the most frequent encoding found on web pages, overtaking both ASCII and Western European encodings—and by coincidence, within 10 days of one another. What's more impressive than simply overtaking them is the speed with which this happened; take a look at the blue line in this graph.
You can see a long-term decline in pages encoded in ASCII (unaccented letters A through Z). More recently, there's been a significant drop in the use of encodings covering only Western European letters (ASCII and a few accented letters like Ä, Ç, and Ø). We're seeing similar declines in other language-specific encodings. Unicode, on the other hand, is showing a sharp increase in usage.
This is based on our indexing of web pages, and thus may vary somewhat from what other search engines find. However, the trends are pretty clear, and the continued rise in use of Unicode makes it even easier to do the processing for the many languages that we cover.
Friday, May 02, 2008
This week Israel observed Yom HaShoah, the Holocaust Remembrance Day, a holiday inaugurated in 1959 to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. This is an especially important day to Yad Vashem, the Jerusalem-based center for remembering the Holocaust's victims and survivors. I was fortunate to tour Yad Vashem's New Museum with my family last summer, and was moved and inspired by the experience. Our guide told us an anecdote about a visitor, a survivor of the camps, who recognized an item in one exhibit and was able to explain its context to museum curators and fellow visitors. This is why Yad Vashem is so important: it's a place that preserves the horrible history of the Holocaust and puts it in context for all of us.
But a lot of people, including many survivors, aren't able to visit Yad Vashem. How can they discover and share stories? How can they see an artifact or a photo and say, I recognize that item or person because I was there? The answer, of course, is the Internet.
We're proud to report that Yad Vashem has just launched two new YouTube channels, one in English, the other in Arabic. They feature testimonies from Holocaust survivors, historians' lectures on key issues related to the Holocaust, and footage of events big and small (Pope John Paul II's visit in 2000, a touching family reunion). More importantly, they are a way for Yad Vashem to surpass its physical boundaries and reach out to an audience worldwide. This is the promise the Internet holds: to inform and connect the globe, to remember stories, to teach us. As Elie Wiesel said in his speech at the opening of the museum: "If we decided to tell the tale, it is because we wanted the world to be a better world, just a better world, and learn and remember."