Monday, April 29, 2013

Matt Harding: Around the world, one dance at a time with Google Maps

Today is International Dance Day, a celebration of a universal art form that spans cultures and countries. But dancing isn’t just limited to holidays. Since 2003, Matt Harding has famously been dancing his way across the globe with people from all walks of life and sharing to millions on his YouTube channel. His mission is simple: Dance. Dance with everyone. Dance everywhere. Dance to spread joy.

Matt’s journey began with a serendipitous, single dance step in Hanoi. While traveling through Southeast Asia, his friend encouraged him to dance for the camera—and he just kept dancing. At first, he was amused by the idea of capturing himself dancing in front of famous landmarks and in famous cities around the world. Since then, Matt’s videos have evolved beyond a single man dancing; his videos now focus on individuals that gather together to share in the fun of dance, as you can see in his 2012 YouTube film.

The joy that goes into Matt’s work is apparent—and well documented. However, there’s also a fair amount of planning involved to choreograph his efforts. Matt relies on Google Maps for comprehensive, accurate and useful tools to execute and track his steps.



Before he sets off on each adventure, Matt uses Google Maps to scout various locations. Using Street View and photos in Google Maps, he finds landmarks and points of interest around the globe that are prefect dance spots. For instance, he came across Piazza del Popolo while exploring Rome with Street View. These tools come in handy to help Matt choose a backdrop to highlight his assembly of exuberant, local dancers.


Piazza del Popolo in Rome - View Larger Map

Scouting is only part of the process. Once Matt has coordinated a group in a city, he helps everyone get to the designated destination by creating a customized My Map and sharing it with the participants so they can easily navigate to the planned meetup location. The end result is something everyone around the world can relate to.



Follow Matt as he continues to travel the world on his site www.wherethehellismatt.com.

Keep dancing!

Google Now on your iPhone and iPad, with the Google Search app

Many of us can no longer imagine life without our smartphones. We use them for all sorts of things, like getting reminders of important calendar appointments (say, a first date), and driving directions to the Italian restaurant where your table for two awaits. Today, with the launch of Google Now on iPhone and iPad, your smartphone will become even smarter.

Google Now is about giving you just the right information at just the right time. It can show you the day’s weather as you get dressed in the morning, or alert you that there’s heavy traffic between you and your butterfly-inducing date—so you’d better leave now! It can also share news updates on a story you’ve been following, remind you to leave for the airport so you can make your flight and much more. There’s no digging required: cards appear at the moment you need them most—and the more you use Google Now, the more you get out of it.

Google Now for iPhone and iPad is available as part of the updated Google Search app. Together, Google Now and voice search will make your day run a little smoother.


In addition to the handy cards in Google Now, the Google Search app still gives you instant answers to all your questions. Try tapping the microphone and speak to your phone—you’ll get quick answers spoken back to you. For example, ask Google, “Do I need an umbrella this weekend?” and you’ll get the forecast. Or ask “Who’s in the cast of ‘Oblivion’?” to decide if you want to see it. Voice Search is particularly handy on the go—try "Show me nearby pizza places" and you'll see a map of restaurants around you with directions, phone numbers, ratings and hours.



Get the Google Search app with Google Now from the App Store. Drag it to the tray, open it, sign in and you’re ready to go.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Big Tent comes to Washington

When we started holding our Big Tent events in London two years ago, we wanted to stir up lively conversation about some of the hot topics relating to the Internet and society. After all, the political meaning of a “big tent” is to attract diverse viewpoints to come together in one place. Since then, we’ve held more than 20 Big Tents on three different continents to debate issues ranging from arts and culture online to the economic impact of the web.

Later today, the Big Tent is coming to Washington, D.C. for the first time. Along with our partner Bloomberg, we'll hear from some of the top names in media, government and the arts for discussions about one of the values we hold most dear: the right to free expression.

Can free speech survive in the digital age? At a time when too many governments deny their citizens the right to dissent, we’ll ask if the Internet is reaching its promise of empowering people around the world. We’ll have sessions on the limits to free speech online, national security in the Internet age, and creativity and freedom on the web.

Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt and senior vice president and chief legal officer David Drummond will be joined by a variety of speakers, including former U.S. attorney general Alberto Gonzales, deputy secretary of homeland security Jane Holl Lute, Bloomberg chief content officer Norman Pearlstine, former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller, and Saudi Arabian comedian and YouTube star Omar Hussein.

Things kick off at 1:30pm EDT today—you can watch the entire event on Bloomberg’s live stream and tune in to the Big Tent Google+ page for updates as the event unfolds. Later on, we’ll also upload video clips to the Big Tent YouTube channel. We hope you’ll join us for exciting conversations about how to best keep the Internet free and open.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Two Googlers elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

On Wednesday, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences announced its list of 2013 elected members. We’re proud to congratulate Peter Norvig, director of research, and Arun Majumdar, vice president for energy; two Googlers who are among the new members elected this year.

Membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is considered one of the nation’s highest honors, with those elected recognized as leaders in the arts, public affairs, business, and academic disciplines. With more than 250 Nobel Prize laureates and 60 Pulitzer Prize winners among its fellows, the American Academy celebrates the exceptional contributions of the elected members to critical social and intellectual issues.

With their election, Peter and Arun join seven other Googlers as American Academy members: Eric Schmidt, Vint Cerf, Alfred Spector, Hal Varian, Ray Kurzweil and founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, all of whom embody our commitment to innovation and real-world impact. You can read more detailed summaries of Peter and Arun’s achievements below.

Dr. Peter Norvig, currently director of research at Google, is known most for his broad expertise in computer science and artificial intelligence, exemplified by his co-authorship (with Stuart Russell) of the leading college text, Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach. With more than 50 publications and a plethora of webpages, essays and software programs on a wide variety of CS topics, Peter is a catalyst of fundamental research across a wide range of disciplines while remaining a hands-on scientist who writes his own code. Recently, he has taught courses on artificial intelligence and the design of computer programs via massively open online courses (MOOC). Learn more about Peter and his research on norvig.com.

Dr. Arun Majumdar leads Google.org’s energy initiatives and advises Google on its broader energy strategy. Prior to joining Google last year, he was the founding director of the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), where he served from October 2009 until June 2012. Earlier, he was a professor of mechanical engineering as well as materials science and engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, and headed the Environmental Energy Technologies Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He has published several hundred papers, patents and conference proceedings. Find out more about Arun.

Transparency Report: More government removal requests than ever before

Three years ago when we launched the Transparency Report, we said we hoped it would shine some light on the scale and scope of government requests for censorship and data around the globe. Today, for the seventh time, we’re releasing new numbers showing requests from governments to remove content from our services. From July to December 2012, we received 2,285 government requests to remove 24,179 pieces of content—an increase from the 1,811 requests to remove 18,070 pieces of content that we received during the first half of 2012.


As we’ve gathered and released more data over time, it’s become increasingly clear that the scope of government attempts to censor content on Google services has grown. In more places than ever, we’ve been asked by governments to remove political content that people post on our services. In this particular time period, we received court orders in several countries to remove blog posts criticizing government officials or their associates.

You can read more about these requests by looking at the annotations section of the Transparency Report. Of particular note were three occurrences that took place in the second half of 2012:

  • There was a sharp increase in requests from Brazil, where we received 697 requests to remove content from our platforms (of which 640 were court orders—meaning we received an average of 3.5 court orders per day during this time period), up from 191 during the first half of the year. The big reason for the spike was the municipal elections, which took place last fall. Nearly half of the total requests—316 to be exact—called for the removal of 756 pieces of content related to alleged violations of the Brazilian Electoral Code, which forbids defamation and commentary that offends candidates. We’re appealing many of these cases, on the basis that the content is protected by freedom of expression under the Brazilian Constitution.
  • Another place where we saw an increase was from Russia, where a new law took effect last fall. In the first half of 2012, we received six requests, the most we had ever received in any given six-month period from Russia. But in the second half of the year, we received 114 requests to remove content—107 of them citing this new law.
  • During this period, we received inquiries from 20 countries regarding YouTube videos containing clips of the movie “Innocence of Muslims.” While the videos were within our Community Guidelines, we restricted videos from view in several countries in accordance with local law after receiving formal legal complaints. We also temporarily restricted videos from view in Egypt and Libya due to the particularly difficult circumstances there.

We’ve also made a couple of improvements to the Transparency Report since our last update:

  • We’re now breaking down government requests about YouTube videos to clarify whether we removed videos in response to government requests for violating Community Guidelines, or whether we restricted videos from view due to local laws. You can see the details by scrolling to the bottom of each country-specific page.
  • We’ve also refreshed the look of the Traffic section, making it easier to see where and when disruptions have occurred to Google services. You can see a map where our services are currently disrupted; you can see a map of all known disruptions since 2009; and you can more easily navigate between time periods and regions.

The information we share on the Transparency Report is just a sliver of what happens on the Internet. But as we disclose more data and continue to expand it over time, we hope it helps draw attention to the laws around the world that govern the free flow of information online.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Celebrating the 50th country on Street View

Whether you're planning a summer vacation to visit the Colosseum or exploring potential neighborhoods for your next move, Street View gives you instant access to the places you want to see—even before you leave the house. We launched Street View in 2007 in five U.S. cities to give you what we called a “feet on the ground” experience and have since been growing the program to make it more comprehensive, accurate and useful for everyone.

Today, we’ve reached 50 countries with the launch of Street View in Hungary and Lesotho and are significantly expanding our coverage in Poland and Romania, among other locations around the world. This is also the largest single update of Street View imagery we’ve ever pushed, including new and updated imagery for nearly 350,000 miles of roads across 14 countries.

Now you can take a virtual stroll through the historic center of Budapest, right along the Danube (the river that carves the city in two). See the Hungarian Parliament building or the famous Chain bridge.


Budapest, Lánchíd (Chain bridge)

Other Hungarian treasures to be discovered include the Széchenyi thermal bath, the largest medicinal bath in Europe, as well as the wonders of Buda castle.

Lesotho, an enclave surrounded by South Africa, is the only independent state that sits entirely 1,000m or more above sea level. Explore some of the mountainous imagery captured by our Street View cars, including the winding roads and lakes.



Leribe District, Lesotho

Other sights include the Lesotho Evangelical Church, which is one of Africa's oldest Protestant churches, founded in 1833 by missionaries from Paris, and the traditional architecture in Nkesi, Maseru.

We’re also refreshing and expanding existing Street View coverage in France, Italy, Poland, Romania, Russia, Singapore and Thailand. And, we’ve added new special collections of a host of picturesque spots—using our Street View Trike technology—including Portugal’s Pena National Palace, or the Sha Tin Che Kung Temple in Hong Kong or the Kilkenny Castle in Ireland.


Kilkenny Castle, Ireland

From the first handful of U.S. cities, to the now thousands of cities and villages worldwide, we’ve spent the past six years updating Google Maps for you. From Antarctica to Australia, from South Korea to South Africa, from the snow-capped peaks of Everest to the Great Barrier Reef, you can navigate more than 5 million miles of the world, without ever leaving home. So spin the globe and take a walk through any one of the 50 countries now on Street View.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A new kind of summer job: open source coding with Google Summer of Code

If you’re a university student with CS chops looking to earn real-world experience this summer, consider writing code for a cool open source project with the Google Summer of Code program.


Over the past eight years more than 6,000 students have “graduated” from this global program, working with almost 400 different open source projects. Students who are accepted into the program will put the skills they have learned in university to good use by working on an actual software project over the summer. Students are paired with mentors to help address technical questions and concerns throughout the course of the project. With the knowledge and hands-on experience students gain during the summer they strengthen their future employment opportunities in fields related to their academic pursuits. Best of all, more source code is created and released for the use and benefit of all.

Interested students can submit proposals on the website starting now through Friday, May 3 at 12:00pm PDT. Get started by reviewing the ideas pages of the 177 open source projects in this year’s program, and decide which projects you’re interested in. Because Google Summer of Code has a limited number of spots for students, writing a great project proposal is essential to being selected to the program—be sure to check out the Student Manual for advice.

For ongoing information throughout the application period and beyond, see the Google Open Source blog, join our Summer of Code mailing lists or join us on Internet relay chat at #gsoc on Freenode.

Good luck to all the open source coders out there, and remember to submit your proposals early—you only have until May 3 to apply!

In support of a national STEM Teacher Corps

Last year, while hosting the White House Science Fair, President Obama said, “If you win the NCAA championship, you come to the White House. Well, if you're a young person and you produce the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement, too.” We agree—and we think the best science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers who inspire those young people should be honored and supported as well.

That’s why Google and our partner organizations support a national STEM Teacher Corps to acknowledge the great teachers who help students achieve amazing things in the fields of science and technology. We’re excited that the President has recommended funding for a STEM Teacher Corps in his budget (PDF).

Today we’re co-publishing a white paper (PDF) with Math For America and the Broad Institute that outlines some of the key features of such a corps. We gathered input from more than 80 organizations to make recommendations for a program that will reward teachers and schools with significant stipends, foster a community of teachers empowered to make broad improvements in STEM education, and recognize a larger percentage of teachers than any existing recognition program.

We must do more to retain the best teachers so our students have the opportunity to succeed in these growing fields, and we applaud the many organizations already working to elevate and celebrate the top STEM teachers nationwide. We look forward to continuing to support the development of the STEM Teacher Corps and doing our part to ensure that every student has access to truly great STEM teachers.

Following the lead of nature’s engineers

It’s no surprise that Google appreciates engineers. And this Earth Day, we’re looking at some of our favorite engineers from nature to see how they can teach us to treat the environment better. We’ve created a website where we can see the beauty and ingenuity of the natural world through photos from National Geographic. We also want to provide easy ways to be greener in our own lives, so this site shows us how we can all be like those organisms by taking simple actions to care for the environment.


For instance, until recently I’d never heard of a remora. Turns out that these fish latch on to other ocean creatures such as whales and turtles to catch rides. In a way, these fish are using their own form of mass transit. To be like the remora and travel with a lighter footprint, we can plan trips using rapid transit. Or we can be inspired by bears—the true experts on “sleep mode”—to save energy in our own lives by adjusting our home thermostat and using energy efficient appliances.

Our doodle today also acknowledges the interconnections of the natural world. You can interact with elements of the environment to affect the seasons, weather and wildlife.


As another way to move from awareness to action, we’re hosting a Google+ Hangout On Air series focused on pressing environmental issues. We’ll kick it off today at 12pm ET with a Hangout on Air connecting NASA (live from Greenland), National Geographic explorers from around the world, and Underwater Earth (live from the Great Barrier reef). Throughout the week, we’ll hold daily Hangouts on Air covering topics such as clean water and animal conservation.

This Earth Day and every day, let’s take a moment to marvel at the wonder of nature and do our part to protect the natural ecosystem we all depend on. A salute to nature’s engineers!

Happy birthday Campus London. You’ve grown up so fast.

Just over 12 months ago, Campus London opened its doors to the young, upcoming London tech startup community. I’d like to think we always knew it would succeed, but I don’t think any of us expected the level of engagement and enthusiasm we’ve seen in year one.


In just 365 days of operation, Campus now has more than 10,000 members, permanently houses more than 100 young companies and has hosted more than 850 events, attracting more than 60,000 guests through the door. From individual entrepreneurs looking to explore their back-of-a-napkin idea to global venture fund managers, there’s something for everyone in the London tech scene at Campus, and the vibe is electric.



We asked Campus members to provide their feedback and outlook on year one, and their response has been overwhelmingly positive. Campus-based companies are growing and creating jobs. One in four are already looking to find bigger office spaces to house their growing teams. We’ve also seen that the success of the London technology startup community as a whole has mirrored that of Campus.

Campus members are younger than the average Tech City entrepreneur, and with initiatives like Women@Campus, increasingly more female entrepreneurs are signing up. Campus is also truly international, with 22 nationalities working, interacting and attending the many mentoring sessions and classes we and our Google volunteers run every day.


Looking ahead to the next year and beyond, we’re offering even more: more globally-acclaimed speakers, a new Campus EDU education programme offering mentorship from Googlers, inspirational talks from thought leaders like Guy Kawasaki, Eric Schmidt and Jimmy Wales, and a curriculum of classes to develop the skills young startups need to build successful businesses.

Google started as a two-person startup in a garage in California. We’re looking to provide the best possible garage to our 10,000 members every day. And so far, all indicators show that Campus is one of the most exciting places in the world for technological innovation.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Expanding options for companies to buy renewable energy

We’re always looking for ways to expand the use of renewable energy. To date we’ve committed more than $1 billion to renewable energy project investments, signed agreements to procure wind power near our data centers, and installed solar panels at our corporate headquarters.

It’s also important to work directly with our utility partners to find solutions that will make more renewable energy available for us and for others. The most straightforward way to do this is for utilities to offer a renewable power option for companies that request it—something that’s not currently offered by most utilities. We’ve just published a white paper (PDF) laying out our thoughts on how and why such programs might work.

We’re also announcing our first effort to put this idea into practice. We’re expanding our Lenoir, N.C. data center, and our local electricity provider, Duke Energy, has pledged to develop a new program for large companies like Google who want to buy renewable power for their operations. Duke will file the plan with their state commission within 90 days.

Our Lenoir, N.C. data center

Offering companies like Google a renewable energy option has many advantages. Because the service is made available to a wide range of customers, companies that don’t have the ability or resources to pursue alternative approaches can participate. And by tapping utilities’ strengths in power generation and delivery, it makes it easier for companies to buy renewable energy on a larger scale. Of course, the approach is not without its challenges: utilities will need to work out the mechanics of the service within their local regulatory structure, and in many cases state utility commissions will need to approve the programs. There’s also the challenge of finding cost-effective renewable projects.

We'll continue to find creative ways to supply our facilities with renewable energy, but we think this solution can provide an important new way to increase the use of renewable energy nationwide. We look forward to working with utilities, state utility commissions, companies and other stakeholders to make it a reality.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bringing Google+ Comments to Blogger

Reading and responding to comments can be one of the most rewarding aspects of blogging. Not only do they help you connect with your readers, they can also inspire later blog entries. The challenge, oftentimes, is following all the conversations around your content—on Google+, for instance, as well as on your website. So we're making things a lot simpler.

Starting today, you can bring Google+ Comments to your Blogger blog. Once you've enabled the feature through your Blogger Dashboard, you'll enjoy a number of important benefits:

View your blog and Google+ comments, all in one place
Now when you're browsing your blog's comment threads, you'll see activity from direct visitors, and from people talking about your content on Google+. For example, if there's a public Google+ discussion about one of your blog entries, those comments and replies will also appear on your Blogger blog. This way you can engage with more of your readers, all in one place.

Help readers comment and connect with their circles
Your blog readers will now have the option to comment publicly, or privately to their circles on Google+. And when they're browsing blog comments, they can view all of them, just the top ones, or only those from the people in their circles.

In all cases, you and your readers will only see the comments you have permission to see. Giving people these kinds of controls not only encourages more meaningful sharing—it can lead to more blog traffic.


To get started with Google+ Comments, just visit the Google+ tab of your Blogger Dashboard, and check “Use Google+ Comments.” (Older comments will continue to appear in the new widget.) You can also visit any post on the Official Google Blog (like this one), or on Blogger Buzz (like this one), to see Google+ Comments in action.

Happy commenting!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Google Fiber—on the Silicon Prairie, the Silicon Hills and now the Silicon Slopes

Today the Google Fiber team is in Provo, Utah, where Mayor John Curtis just announced that we intend to make Provo our third Google Fiber City.

Utah is already home to hundreds of tech companies and startups, and many of them are based in Provo. In fact, the Provo area ranks second in the nation in patent growth, and is consistently ranked as one of the top places to live and do business in the U.S. We believe the future of the Internet will be built on gigabit speeds, and we’re sure the businesses and residents of Provo already have some good ideas for what they’d build with a gig.

In order to bring Fiber to Provo, we’ve signed an agreement to purchase iProvo, an existing fiber-optic network owned by the city. As a part of the acquisition, we would commit to upgrade the network to gigabit technology and finish network construction so that every home along the existing iProvo network would have the opportunity to connect to Google Fiber. Our agreement with Provo isn’t approved yet—it’s pending a vote by the City Council scheduled for next Tuesday, April 23. We intend to begin the network upgrades as soon as the closing conditions are satisfied and the deal is closed.

Provo started building their own municipal network in 2004 because they decided that providing access to high speed connectivity was important to their community’s future. In 2011, they started looking for a partner that could acquire their network and deliver an affordable service for Provoans. We’re committed to keeping their vision alive, and, if the deal is approved and the acquisition closes, we’d offer our Free Internet service (5 Mbps speeds) to every home along the existing Provo network, for a $30 activation fee and no monthly charge for at least seven years. We would also offer Google Fiber Gigabit Internet—up to 100x faster Internet than today’s average broadband speeds—and the option for Google Fiber TV service with hundreds of your favorite channels. We’d also provide free Gigabit Internet service to 25 local public institutions like schools, hospitals and libraries.

Over the next few days, we’ll be in and around Provo with Mayor Curtis, attending community meetings and talking to residents about what widespread gigabit connectivity could mean for their community, and the ways in which we’d invest in their iProvo network. If you are a Provoan, we hope to see you there!

Helping entrepreneurs take the “NEXT” step

Entrepreneurs around the world tell us that they want to launch new businesses—but that before they do, they need to make sure they have the skills to make those companies as successful as possible. Starting today, a new partnership with our friends at Startup Weekend will help these entrepreneurs realize that dream.

Startup Weekend NEXT, powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, will enable any entrepreneur to register for a comprehensive, five-week course developed by renowned entrepreneur and educator Steve Blank. The curriculum, built around customer development and in-person interaction, helps entrepreneurs validate and modify their business models. And it lets them sit next to and work with established entrepreneurs and peers who’ve experienced the exact same challenges they face.

Active in a number of cities now, Startup Weekend NEXT will expand globally over the course of 2013. Using Google+ Hangouts, NEXT experts will train local instructors from Reykjavik to Ramallah, enabling entrepreneurs all over the world to launch and build their businesses.

We were excited to officially launch this partnership at Campus London, with Steve Blank joining us live over Google+ Hangout to kick things off. Campus opened a year ago this month and now has 10,000 members, is home to more than 100 young businesses and has hosted more than 800 entrepreneurship events.

We’ve been energized by the incredible momentum and connections that are happening within Campus’ walls and through our partners’ programs—including Startup Weekend’s, which runs its European operations from Campus London. Together, we look forward to equipping entrepreneurs with the skills they need to start and scale great companies.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Secretary of State John Kerry kicks off “Hangouts at State” series on Google+

Over the past year, Google+ has been used across the globe to connect people and enable free expression—from Syria Deeply, an independent news site which regularly uses Google+ and Hangouts to report about the crisis in Syria to Tom Fletcher, the British Ambassador to Lebanon, who issues dispatches from one country to another via Hangout.

Today, the U.S. Department of State is building on this trend by announcing a new series of discussions called “Hangouts at State.” Each month, these conversations will bring people together across global boundaries to discuss the most pressing U.S. foreign policy issues, like democracy promotion, human rights, counterterrorism efforts, economic development, climate change and drug interdiction.

The series kicks off on Friday, April 19 with a Hangout with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, entitled “The U.S. in the World: What’s In It for Us” and moderated by NBC’s Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell. The Secretary will be joined by a group of Americans to discuss the impact of U.S. foreign policy on people at home.

Tune in on Friday at 1 p.m. E.T. to watch the conversation unfold, and keep your eye on the Google Politics and Elections page for news about the next “Hangout at State.”

Taking a minute to enjoy some art on World Art Day

Today is World Art Day and it's around two years since we launched Google Art Project. In honour of this and all our partners, large and small, traditional and modern, let’s take a quick look at how people are interacting with art online.

The Internet brings paintings to life and it seems that The Starry Night by van Gogh is the one that visitors to Art Project admire the most. In the past six months, this was the most viewed painting in gigapixel—an extremely high resolution painting which allows viewers to zoom in to brushstroke level. While nothing beats seeing a painting in real life, the ability to examine a work of art in this level of detail seems to be encouraging viewers to linger. One minute is the average time spent looking at any given painting on the Art Project website, compared to under 20 seconds (according to several studies) in a museum.

The Starry Night is also the most frequently included painting in user galleries, where individuals create and share their own virtual art collections. We have 40,000 works of art on the platform but some remain perennial favourites. The other most popular inclusions in user galleries (in order) are :

The Starry Night on Art Project

Viewings of user galleries were in fact higher than any individual artist or painting. To date, 360,000 galleries have been created, 14,000 of which are public on the web. To mark World Art Day, we asked some of our partners to curate user galleries of their own. Take a look through the selections of eight museum directors here.

Given the list above, it’s clear the classics remain popular with viewers, but there is increasing interest in modern art as well, with Dali and Klimt featuring among the most searched for artists. The Internet has also allowed users to explore multiple genres in a single destination. More than 30 different mediums co-exist on Art Project with oil on canvas next to over 5,000 objects including silk textiles, sculptures and furniture. There can't be many places where you can find Brazilian street art alongside Botticelli.

Many partners who have contributed an art collection have also opted to put their museums on Street View. On average, visitors spend around two minutes exploring the interior of the buildings and viewing the paintings on display. The most-visited Street View destination on Art Project is The White House. As the majority of us will never get the opportunity to go inside, the Internet allows a rare glimpse into a global institution that also houses an extensive art collection.

With over 200 partners from 43 countries, we continue our quest to open up access to art to millions of professionals, students, beginners and amateur enthusiasts. At 1pm ET today, we’ll be holding the latest in our Art Talks series on our G+ page, which aims to put art lovers in touch with art experts online. Sign up here to hangout with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to chat about multimedia in the arts from the comfort of your armchair on World Art Day.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Introducing the Glass Collective

Glass is a potentially transformative technology. It’s a window into the world’s information, and a new way to share experiences with those you care about.

Here at Google Ventures, my partners and I thought the potential for Glass was significant enough to invite our friends at Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers to join us in exploring this big opportunity. We’ve formed the Glass Collective, an investment syndicate among our three firms, to provide seed funding to entrepreneurs in the Glass ecosystem to help jumpstart their ideas.


Smart entrepreneurs and engineers are going to develop amazing experiences through Glass. If you’ve been mulling over a brilliant idea for Glass, let us know.

For Malaysia: Bringing Google Apps and Chromebooks to the classroom

As a parent of three kids, I have the same aspirations as many other parents and educators—to provide them with the best opportunities to learn and discover their passions. For many students, the web has become an incredible resource for the classroom, offering tools to work collaboratively, share and research. School systems of all sizes—from a single primary school to an entire country such as the Philippines—have “Gone Google” in their schools and embraced the web to transform education.

Today the country of Malaysia is going a step further by adopting Google Apps for 10 million students, teachers and parents. As part of this initiative they are also deploying Chromebooks to primary and secondary schools nationwide. These efforts to integrate the web are a central part of a national plan (PDF) to reform its educational system.


To deploy technology across a nationwide school system, computers need to be simple, manageable and secure. Chromebooks are ideal for learning and sharing in the classroom—there’s nothing complicated to learn, they boot up in seconds and have virus protection built in. They also offer easy setup and deployment, which means they’re ready to go the moment a student opens the lid and logs in. And with reduced overhead costs, Chromebooks are a cost-efficient option* to deploy technology at scale.

To date, more than 3,000 schools worldwide, from Edina, Minnesota to Point England, New Zealand, have deployed Chromebooks to improve attendance and graduation rates, make learning more fun and enable students to take more ownership for their learning.

The web gives our children and students new opportunities to access the world’s information and work collaboratively. We look forward to working with national and regional leaders to make the most of the web with Google Apps and Chromebooks and help them provide the best opportunities to every student.



*In research sponsored by Google, research firm IDC found that Chromebooks yield three-year cost of ownership savings of $1,135 per device compared to traditional PCs or tablets, require 69% fewer hours to deploy and 92% fewer hours to manage. Learn more.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Fighting human trafficking

Human trafficking, the narcotics trade and weapons smuggling all have one major thing in common: Their ill-gotten proceeds feed conflict, instability and repression worldwide. Out of all of these, human trafficking is perhaps the most devastating, enslaving nearly 21 million people and generating at least $32 billion of illicit profits every year. At last summer's Google Ideas summit on mapping, disrupting and exposing illicit networks, it became clear that connecting anti-trafficking helplines in a global data sharing collaboration could help identify illicit patterns and provide victims anywhere in the world with more effective support. Today, Polaris Project, Liberty Asia, and La Strada International are receiving a $3 million Global Impact Award from Google to do just that. Building on our 2011 grants, this brings our total commitment to anti-trafficking efforts to $14.5 million.

Global Impact Awards support nonprofits that use technology to launch disruptive solutions in their sector. We launched the Global Impact Awards program last December to fund new ideas with a potential for huge scale. And at the Google Ideas INFO summit over the summer, we brought together technologists, leaders, and those with unique personal experiences — including former weapons brokers and survivors of domestic and international human trafficking — to look at illicit networks and their defining obstacles. By connecting technologists and experts with those who understand and have lived through trafficking situations, our discussion centered around a fundamental question: What if local, national, and regional anti-trafficking helplines across the globe were all connected in a data-driven network that helped disrupt the web of human trafficking?



Since the summit, we’ve worked with Polaris Project, Liberty Asia and La Strada International to make this concept a reality. These organizations exist to provide vital help to victims in need across the United States, the Mekong Delta region and Europe. Now, working across borders, this new Global Human Trafficking Hotline Network will collect data from local hotline efforts, share promising practices and create anti-trafficking strategies that build on common patterns and focus on eradication, prevention and victim protection. To enhance the participating organizations' ability to better share, analyze and act upon their data in real time, Palantir Technologies will expand on its existing relationship with Polaris Project by donating its data integration and analytics platform for this project. In addition, Salesforce.com supports Polaris Project's hotline center and is helping scale their call tracking infrastructure internationally.

Together, these partners will not only be able to help more trafficking survivors, but will also move the global conversation forward by dramatically increasing the amount of useful data being shared. Appropriate data can tell the anti-trafficking community which campaigns are most effective at reducing slavery, what sectors are undergoing global spikes in slavery, or if the reduction of slavery in one country coincides with an increase right across the border.

In the U.S., Polaris Project has collected data from over 72,000 hotline calls, helping local and national anti-trafficking communities better understand the dynamics of the crime. No such actionable hotline database has existed globally — but it doesn’t need to be that way. Clear international strategies, increased cooperation, and appropriate data sharing amongst anti-trafficking organizations will help victims, prevention efforts, and sound policymaking. Slavery can be stopped. Let's get to it.

Google Fiber’s Next Stop: Austin, Texas

We know that your time is valuable and so we’ve always focused on speed — from search to Gmail, Chrome to Android. Two years ago, we announced that we’d be bringing Google Fiber to Kansas City to show what’s possible with super fast Internet access, and since November we’ve been connecting homes there to gigabit Internet that’s 100 times faster than today’s average broadband performance.

Today, we’re pleased to announce with Mayor Lee Leffingwell that Austin, Texas is becoming a Google Fiber city. It’s a mecca for creativity and entrepreneurialism, with thriving artistic and tech communities, as well as the University of Texas and its new medical research hospital. We’re sure these folks will do amazing things with gigabit access, and we feel very privileged to have been welcomed to their community.



Our goal is to start connecting homes in Austin by mid-2014. Customers there will have a similar choice of products as our customers in Kansas City: Gigabit Internet or Gigabit Internet plus our Google Fiber TV service with nearly 200 HD TV channels. We’re still working out pricing details, but we expect them to be roughly similar to Kansas City. Also, as in Kansas City, we’re going to offer customers a free Internet connection at 5 mbps for 7 years, provided they pay a one-time construction fee. We’re also planning to connect many public institutions as we build in Austin— schools, hospitals, community centers, etc. — at a gigabit for no charge. If you live in Austin and want to sign up for more information, please visit our website.

The Internet is still in its early days and has so much more potential to improve our lives. The web helps students and families access essential resources, from information about jobs and healthcare to banking and educational services. Communities that are connected to the Internet grow stronger because there’s greater potential to create jobs, drive economic growth, and help businesses succeed. We believe the Internet’s next chapter will be built on gigabit speeds, and we hope this new Google Fiber city will inspire communities across America to think about what ultrafast connectivity could mean for them. If you’re a city leader and you’re looking for some help making your city gigabit-friendly, have a look at this video from the FCC’s March 2013 Workshop on Gigabit Community Broadband Networks for steps you can take towards your own gigabit-powered future.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Become a public speaking pro: learning how to present the next great idea

This is the third post in a series profiling Googlers who facilitate classes as part of our g2g program, in which Googlers teach, share and learn from each other. Regardless of role, level or location, g2g's community-based approach makes it possible for all Googlers to take advantage of a variety of learning opportunities. - Ed.

“[Public speaking] is quite simple, say what you have to say and
when you come to a sentence with a grammatical ending, sit down.” —Winston Churchill

If only public speaking were actually that easy. We’re often asked to present in front of a group, so good presentation skills are really important. Fear of public speaking is often ranked higher than fear of spiders, flying and heights. While spiders can make me jumpy, I not only enjoy public speaking, I also teach it.

In addition to my core role as Google Toronto’s agency team lead (helping to nurture relationships with some of the largest ad agencies in Canada), I help my colleagues amp up their public speaking skills as a g2g (Googler-to-Googler) facilitator for two classes, “Presenting with Confidence” and “Presenting with Charisma.” These two classes help my fellow Googlers erase anxiety and self-doubt and focus on the goal—communicating your message. I am actually a mechanical engineer by trade who, at one point, entered graduate school to study robotics. Not exactly the type that comes to mind when you think of great orators. But I’ve learned along the way, as an engineer turned “sales guy,” that a confident demeanor and a little charm can turn a snooze-fest into an engaging, lively meeting.

Here I am teaching one of our Presenting with Confidence classes in our New York City office. 
Photo by Jane Hu.

“Presenting with Confidence” goes beyond the “picture the audience in their underwear” adage. First, students are tasked with making brief presentations about themselves, whether it be about their most recent vacation or how they play in a jazz band. We videotape the students giving their presentations on their phones to review later as a part of the exercise and to keep for their own reference. This, as it turns out, is one of the most effective, eye-opening exercises in the class. Before we roll the tape, the participant comments on an area he/she believes will be pointed out by others, such as, “I always fidget with my hands” or, “I blush as red as a tomato.” The reality is often completely different, and provides an immediate boost of confidence, allowing the student to focus on the content of their presentation. Part of the confidence boost also stems from being surrounded by peers who are in the same boat, so there’s no judgment.

Sharing honest feedback with your peers is an important part of the learning process. 
Photo by Jane Hu.

“Presenting with Charisma” focuses on adding charm and magnetism to your speech. The more the audience wants to hear from a speaker, the more information they’ll absorb. In this class, Googlers nail down the right mix of tone, body language and delivery to better captivate their audience. We role play to learn how to conquer inevitable yet potentially disastrous moments, like when your technology demo crashes.

I experienced one such moment myself when I covered a presentation for a fellow Googler at the last minute. When I started getting asked questions that were beyond my ability to handle, I followed the advice I give my own students, which is to remain calm, upbeat and easy-going—no matter what. I decided to play off the audience’s own knowledge so that the Q&A became more of a dialogue rather than the spotlight shining solely on me.

Solid communication skills anchor any job function. Whether you are an engineer presenting new findings to your manager or a salesperson pitching a new business strategy to a client, a few tips and a lot of practice can make a significant impact on your presentations. If you’re one of the many, many professionals who feels uneasy about getting up in front of a room full of people, try the following tried-and-true techniques to start mastering the art of public speaking.

Tips and tricks to boost your public speaking confidence and charisma:

1) Pace yourself. To slow down and build momentum, try reciting a sentence then walking to the other side of the room. Pause, then walk back to the other side and deliver your next sentence.

2) Unfreeze. What to do if you totally freeze during your presentation? Look at your slide or notes and just describe what you see on the slide or page in front of you. The words will start flowing and come back to you.

3) Fidget and fiddle no more. Displacement tactic: if you find yourself always fiddling with your hands or keeping your hands in your pockets, try standing behind a chair or a podium and planting your hands on the podium so you appear confident. (Even political leaders use this trick.)

4) Get physical. Use the room to your advantage and keep your audience alert. Walk across the room or even among the audience to get people involved in your presentation.

5) Stop saying “Um.” To rid yourself of “umm”-ing your way through a presentation, use this physical displacement tactic: Every time you are transitioning from one point to another, do something small but physical, like moving your pen. Making a conscious effort to move the pen will turn your brain off from using a verbal filler instead.