Posted:
Back in early 2004, Google took an interest in a tiny mapping startup called Where 2 Tech, founded by my brother Jens and me. We were excited to join Google and help create what would become Google Maps. But we also started thinking about what might come next for us after maps.

As always, Jens came up with the answer: communication. He pointed out that two of the most spectacular successes in digital communication, email and instant messaging, were originally designed in the '60s to imitate analog formats — email mimicked snail mail, and IM mimicked phone calls. Since then, so many different forms of communication had been invented — blogs, wikis, collaborative documents, etc. — and computers and networks had dramatically improved. So Jens proposed a new communications model that presumed all these advances as a starting point, and I was immediately sold. (Jens insists it took him hours to convince me, but I like my version better.)

We had a blast the next couple years turning Where 2's prototype mapping site into Google Maps. But finally we decided it was time to leave the Maps team and turn Jens' new idea into a project, which we codenamed "Walkabout." We started with a set of tough questions:
  • Why do we have to live with divides between different types of communication — email versus chat, or conversations versus documents?
  • Could a single communications model span all or most of the systems in use on the web today, in one smooth continuum? How simple could we make it?
  • What if we tried designing a communications system that took advantage of computers' current abilities, rather than imitating non-electronic forms? 
After months holed up in a conference room in the Sydney office, our five-person "startup" team emerged with a prototype. And now, after more than two years of expanding our ideas, our team, and technology, we're very eager to return and see what the world might think. Today we're giving developers an early preview of Google Wave.

A "wave" is equal parts conversation and document, where people can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.


Here's how it works: In Google Wave you create a wave and add people to it. Everyone on your wave can use richly formatted text, photos, gadgets, and even feeds from other sources on the web. They can insert a reply or edit the wave directly. It's concurrent rich-text editing, where you see on your screen nearly instantly what your fellow collaborators are typing in your wave. That means Google Wave is just as well suited for quick messages as for persistent content — it allows for both collaboration and communication. You can also use "playback" to rewind the wave and see how it evolved.

As with Android, Google Chrome, and many other Google efforts, we plan to make the code open source as a way to encourage the developer community to get involved. Google Wave is very open and extensible, and we're inviting developers to add all kinds of cool stuff before our public launch. Google Wave has three layers: the product, the platform, and the protocol:
  • The Google Wave product (available as a developer preview) is the web application people will use to access and edit waves. It's an HTML 5 app, built on Google Web Toolkit. It includes a rich text editor and other functions like desktop drag-and-drop (which, for example, lets you drag a set of photos right into a wave). 
  • Google Wave can also be considered a platform with a rich set of open APIs that allow developers to embed waves in other web services, and to build new extensions that work inside waves.
  • The Google Wave protocol is the underlying format for storing and the means of sharing waves, and includes the "live" concurrency control, which allows edits to be reflected instantly across users and services. The protocol is designed for open federation, such that anyone's Wave services can interoperate with each other and with the Google Wave service. To encourage adoption of the protocol, we intend to open source the code behind Google Wave. 
So, this leaves one big question we need your help answering: What else can we do with this?

If you're a developer and you'd like to roll up your sleeves and start working on Google Wave with us, you can read more on the Google Wave Developer blog about the Google Wave APIs, and check out the Google Code blog to learn more about the Google Wave Federation Protocol

If you'd like to be notified when we launch Google Wave as a public product, you can sign up at http://wave.google.com/. We don't have a specific timeframe for public release, but we're planning to continue working on Google Wave for a number of months more as a developer preview. We're excited to see what feedback we get from our early tinkerers, and we'll undoubtedly make lots of changes to the Google Wave product, platform, and protocol as we go.

We look forward to seeing what you come up with!

Update @ 7:07PM: The video of the Google Wave keynote presentation is now available:



Posted:
I came to Google because I wanted to work on hard problems and have a big impact on the world. Four years later, I'm still constantly awed by how challenging search is. We work on improving the entire search process, including formulating queries, evaluating results, reading and understanding information, and digging deeper with this new information. Every day we work on ways, both big and small, for search to be better, faster, and more effortless.

My fellow engineers and I wanted to give a peek into some of the challenges we face and how we're trying to make search even better. We created a series of short videos so you could hear straight from the engineers. Here's mine, where I talk about a change to spell suggestions.



Some of the videos may talk about things you are already familiar with and some may be new. Either way, we hope that you enjoy hearing these stories, and do stay tuned for more!

Posted:
Today is the first day of Google I/O — two days of developer talks, fireside chats and demos, all focused on the latest innovations in the web as a development platform. We're excited to have this chance to welcome more than 3,000 developers to the Moscone Center in (unusually) sunny San Francisco for a variety of interactive roundtables and talks on subjects like Android, Google Maps and Google Apps for the Enterprise.


We'll be back with more news as the conference progresses. In the meantime, you can follow updates on the @googleio Twitter stream; videos of all sessions will be available on code.google.com shortly after they conclude.

Update @ 3:20PM: Videos from Day 1 of Google I/O are now available on our YouTube playlist.

Posted:
You may have noticed new logos at the top of some of Google's web pages, including Google Labs, Google Moderator, and Google Code. These are the result of a new logo design we are rolling out. We hope this design freshens up our look as well as improves consistency and ease of use across our sites. Now, our product names will appear in clean, simple blue lowercase type alongside the Google logo as shown here:

Since the logos appear in many different locations and sizes on our websites, our new designs are standardized to be the same size and color wherever they appear. This should make it easier for you to recognize which site you are on and navigate to wherever you want to go. They are also consistent across all our international domains, which is especially helpful for people using right-to-left languages such as Arabic and Hebrew.

We are happy with this change since it will help us streamline our user experience. Count on seeing the new logos rolling out to Google Maps, Google News, Google Docs and more over the next few weeks.

Posted:
When we started building Friend Connect, we wanted to provide a fully open system — one that lets you join any website and interact with the people there in a meaningful way, regardless of where they come from. To enable this kind of engagement, we used open standards like OpenID, OAuth, and OpenSocial as underlying technologies, enabling any other service to plug into Friend Connect.

Today, we're excited to share that Netlog has used these open standards to integrate their social networking service with Google Friend Connect. Now, Netlog's more than 45 million users across Europe can:
  • Sign into any of the millions of sites and blogs using Friend Connect with their Netlog credentials
  • Use their Netlog profiles on these sites
  • See if any of their friends are already members of the same sites and invite other Netlog friends to join
  • Share their Friend Connect activities with their friends on Netlog, and
  • Send messages back to their Netlog friends
Additionally, for sites that are already using Friend Connect, one of the benefits of this standards based model is that they can take advantage of any new service that chooses to join this open ecosystem, like Netlog, without any additional work. The new network option simply appears.


Any social network or service, whether they are large or small, regional or global, niche or general audience, is welcome to take advantage of these open standards to integrate with Friend Connect, and participate in an open social web.

Posted:
We introduced Google Chrome back in September, and it's received a great response so far. Since launching, we've been working hard on adding the top requested features and making Google Chrome even faster.

Today, we are updating to a new version of Google Chrome that is faster than ever. JavaScript-heavy web pages will now run about 30% faster. See the chart below or compare scores yourself.

Additionally, we've added some useful features like form autofill, full screen mode, and the ability to remove thumbnails from the New Tab page. Here's a short video demonstrating some of this new functionality:



If you're already using Google Chrome, you'll be automatically updated with these new features soon. If you haven't downloaded Google Chrome, get the latest version at google.com/chrome.

To read more about this update, visit the Google Chrome blog.

Posted:
As we prepared to write this post, we discovered a common childhood passion for fast things: high-speed trains, roller coasters, firetrucks, and more. That may be a key part of why we're so excited to be working on Google Suggest, since it saves time by giving suggestions as we're typing our searches.

Today, we're introducing more features to Google Suggest to help you make your searches even faster. These features are rolling out gradually, so you should be able to see them soon.

Suggestions on the results page
Previously, we only showed suggestions based on your original search input. Now, when you make a search from a results page, we provide suggestions that relate to the current results page. As you can see in the example below, if your previous search was for roller coasters, when you begin a new query the first few suggestions are still related to roller coasters — helping you refine your search queries to quickly find what you want.


Personalized suggestions
Trying to remember that query which gave you the best results? You're not alone! We estimate that about a quarter of all signed-in searches are repeats from the past month. Now, if you're signed in with your Google account and have Web History enabled, we may show some of your relevant past searches as you type. Personalized suggestions will make it easier and faster for you to repeat searches that have worked before. Or, if you need to step away in the middle of a search task, this will help you continue your search tasks at a later time.


You can remove a personalized suggestion that you do not like by clicking "Remove", which will remove the search from your Web History. You can also remove searches from your Web History directly, manage Query Suggestions on the preferences page, or sign out of your Google account entirely to stop seeing personalized suggestions.

Navigational suggestions
If your first keystrokes indicate that you may be looking to navigate directly to a specific site, we'll list it and send you straight there if you click on it.


Sponsored links in suggestions
Similar to the navigational suggestions above, sometimes we detect that the most relevant completion for what you're typing is an ad. When an ad is shown, we mark it with the text "Sponsored Link" and a colored background, as on the results page.


We are also introducing a couple more changes to Suggest: we will no longer show the result count for items in the suggest box (we've gotten feedback that the numbers were not helpful in comparing the relevance of the queries) and we now bold the text of suggestions to help you more quickly scan the list. To learn more about Google Suggest, check out the help center.

We hope these new features save you time, so that you can get back to roller coasters, high-speed web surfing, action movies and each other that much faster.

Posted:
1. Timis County shares its name with a tributary of the Danube and is located in the western part of which European country?

2. Name this eastern European capital city, where a flight from the southeast would approach the city by flying over the Rhodope Mountains.

3. Name this city in Oceania, the largest on South Island, where a flight from the west would approach the city by flying over the Southern Alps.


If you're stumped, you're not alone! For 55 fourth- to eighth-graders, though, these sorts of questions represented the culmination of months of hard work studying maps and absorbing geographic knowledge.

Earlier today I had the honor of speaking at the championship round of the 2008-2009 National Geographic Bee — moderated by Jeopardy!’s Alex Trebek for the 21st year. This year, Google Earth is sponsoring the Bee in support of its mission to raise awareness and support of geography education. Held at National Geographic’s Washington, D.C. headquarters and broadcast on public television stations across the country, the competition inspires and challenges students to better understand the world around them. 

Eric Yang, who didn't miss a single question in the finals, won on the third question of a tiebreaker round by answering the first question above. Eric, a 7th grader from Texas, has already scored 2200 on his SATs!

It wasn't just the students who came away from the day re-energized and excited about geography. I was also lucky enough to meet a number of passionate educators like Rebecca Montgomery, a teacher from Mississippi, who administered the state bee there this year and told me that "the bee had a tremendous impact on our schools this year and I know now what we need to do to get kids ready to learn geography."

Here at Google, we're always excited to see how innovative teachers are using tools like Google Earth and Maps to engage students by putting the world's geographic information at their fingertips. I'm particularly happy to have been part of the Bee today because geography and mapping were such a big part of what led me to help create Google Earth. I'm not the only Googler who fell in love with maps at an early age, though. Check out this video to see how some of my fellow mapmakers started down the path that eventually brought them to their current profession:



We'll be watching to see what lies ahead for today's passionate young geo whizzes. Congrats again to all the Bee competitors, and happy exploring!

Answers: 1. ɐıuɐɯoɹ 2. ɐıɟos 3. ɥɔɹnɥɔʇsıɹɥɔ 

Posted:
Nearly six million online votes helped us pick the winners of this year's Doodle 4 Google competition from a very creative pool of doodles. Today, we're pleased to announce the results.

Congratulations to Christin Engelberth, a sixth grader at Bernard Harris Middle School in San Antonio, Texas. She titled her doodle "A New Beginning" to express her wish that "out of the current crisis, discoveries will be found to help the Earth prosper once more."


Christin will receive a $15,000 college scholarship, a laptop, and a $25,000 technology grant for her school. Her doodle will be featured on the Google.com homepage tomorrow for millions of people around the world to see.

Our congratulations also go out to the three national finalists. They were selected as having the best doodle in their grade groups and will each receive a laptop computer:

Grades K-3
Miriam Elizabeth Lowery ~ Grade K, Austin Peay Elementary
Covington, TN
"Friendship Around the World"

Grades 7-9
Blakely Linz ~ Grade 7, Indian Hill Middle School,
Cincinnati, OH
"Stop to Smell the Flowers"

Grades 10-12
Emerald Lu ~ Grade 10, Covington Latin School
Covington, KY
"From the Ashes"

Our four winners were announced at a special event today at the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, where we also unveiled an exhibit of the top doodles that will be on view until July 5, 2009. The finalists were treated to a day in New York City that included activities which promote peace, sustainability and wellness — all inspired by this year's theme, "What I Wish for the World." And of course, Dennis Hwang and our doodle team led a doodling class for all top regional finalists in New York city.

We have one more winner to announce: Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada, is the recipient of the District Quality Participation Prize. They will receive a $10,000 technology grant for having the greatest quality participation.

Thanks to all those who voted and helped us find this year's winners. And thank you to all the creative kids out there who submitted entries. We hope you'll doodle with us next year!

Update @ 10:45 AM: We've posted all of the state finalists — several hundred doodles in all —on the Doodle 4 Google website and we encourage you to take a look at the beautiful artwork created by these very talented young artists.

Posted:
Earlier this year I blogged about energy information and a tool our engineers developed called Google PowerMeter, a Google gadget that can show consumers their personal electricity consumption right on a home computer. Our software relies on "smart meters" (or other metering devices) as a data source. Over the past several months we've been looking to partner with utilities that are installing (or have already installed) this equipment in their customers' homes. We're energized by our very first Google PowerMeter partners:
Our initial partners include utilities with millions of customers as well as smaller ones. They are rural and urban, privately held and municipally run. Some are in the United States, others in Canada and India. They all have one thing in common — a desire to serve their customers by providing access to detailed information that helps save energy and money. For now, Google PowerMeter is only available to a limited group of customers, but we plan to expand our roll out later this year. Our utility partners are leading the charge to make the electricity grid smarter and we look forward to working with them and others.

In addition to utilities, we're also seeking partnerships with companies that can enable the implementation of our software. Our first such partner is Itron, a leading meter and data management company that serves over 8,000 utilities and is helping some of their customers, including San Diego Gas & Electric, integrate with Google PowerMeter. If you're a utility or company with a smart meter project that might be interested in plugging in to our efforts, visit our website for more information.

Posted:
This month marks the 30th anniversary of the final quarter being dropped into the world’s first commercial video game, for it was in May of 1979 that Galaxy Game was removed from the Coffee House café at Stanford’s Tresidder student union. I spent a good part of five years feeding coins into Galaxy’s wondrous console, and in return it taught me and several other Silicon Valley denizens valuable lessons that laid the groundwork for much of what we have done since.

I met Galaxy Game in the Summer of 1974. My family had just moved to Palo Alto and I had no friends, so my brother and I rode our bikes around the Stanford campus looking for things to do. I was in 8th grade and the bowling alley got boring quickly, but next door, amidst students and lattes (also a novelty at the time) stood two large consoles, side by side, with odd-looking little black screens. Behind those screens sat a DEC PDP-11/20 powering a riveting game built on a simple concept: use a joystick and a couple of buttons (one for torpedoes, one for hyperspace) to destroy the other spaceships. Best of all, unlike its descendants such as Asteroids, Galaxy was a multi-player game. Those opposing spaceships were controlled by the people sitting next to you, and if you won the game you kept your quarter.

I knew a good deal when I saw one, so I hung around the Coffee House and got to know the game’s co-creator, a Stanford grad named Bill Pitts. That's how I got my first job in high-tech: in exchange for keeping the consoles clean, I got a few dollars per day and a bunch of insider tips about how to play. For example, if your torpedo was on course to destroy an opponent’s ship and that opponent escaped into hyperspace, you could follow him there, shoot again, and destroy him. Imagine the face of a graduate student who thinks he has outwitted that annoying kid, only to find when he releases his finger from the hyperspace button that his ship is nothing but fragments of white floating randomly into the blackness of space. Nothing on Wii matches it!

Galaxy's lessons have stayed with me. Its design was simple and easy to use but with the depth to satisfy the most committed players. Its on-screen dashboard fed players real-time information about fuel, torpedoes, and location, my first inkling that data is critical to making smart decisions.

Finally, in Galaxy achieving your goals sometimes required a jump to hyperspace. My opponents thought hyperspace was a last resort, a refuge from a losing path. I discovered that it was a way to win — high risk and scary, but with a huge payoff. So when in doubt, press the button and make the jump! At worst you’ll lose a quarter, but at best you’ll rule the Galaxy.

Posted:
This post is the latest in an ongoing series on The Power of Measurement. Previous topics have covered ways to make your website as successful as possible through tools such as Analytics and Website Optimizer. – Ed.

Online video has become increasingly popular and it is now recognized as a very powerful medium for delivering a message. As more and more media companies and advertisers are embracing online video, and millions of people are uploading their own videos every day, building a following and reaching your target audience can be very challenging. We developed a free analytics tool, YouTube Insight, as one way to help you do just that. Since the launch of Insight just over a year ago, we've been adding more features to help you better understand how the YouTube community is interacting with your video and grow your audience.

Just like there is a "science" behind programming on TV, content owners and advertisers are becoming more sophisticated about how to gain optimal exposure for their content on YouTube. So how do you master this "science"? First, let's start with the basics. Monitoring viewing trends through Insight's "Views" tab can help you nail down the best time to upload your new videos. For example, Mondo Media uses Insight to monitor and predict surges in views of their strongest videos. They then time the launch of new episodes with these "waves" of traffic, making it easier for their existing audience to discover new favorites. Using Insight to increase their momentum on the site is one of the practices that have helped Mondo Media become the 6th most viewed YouTube Channel of all time.

Insight has even more sophisticated features, like the "Discovery" feature, which shows you how your viewers found your videos (i.e., through search, an embedded player, related videos or viral sharing). Just like with websites, figuring out how visitors are coming to your videos can help you grow your audience. Using "Discovery," the band Weezer was surprised to find out that many of their followers were actually techies and not indie rockers: a large number of people had discovered their "Pork & Beans" video on YouTube through the embedded player on tech blogs. This finding led them to optimize their marketing strategy and shift funds in their budget to tech blogs for promoting their summer tour.

Using "Discovery," you can also see which keywords are driving views and then advertise against these keywords using YouTube's Promoted Video product. You can see exactly how effective this method of promotion is and optimize your a spend in the future.

Understanding which parts of your video people liked can be difficult, so we created the "Hot Spots" feature in Insight to show you the ups-and-downs of viewership for every single moment of your video, compared to videos of similar length. The higher the graph, the hotter your video, meaning fewer viewers are leaving your video and they may also be rewinding to watch that point in the video again. Understanding which parts of your video your audience likes enables you to make better content. The better the content, the more likely it is that viewers will send your video to their friends, kicking off the cycle of virality and helping you grow your audience.

There are countless ways to use the data gathered from Insight to improve your YouTube numbers. Someone using YouTube to share a video of their vacation can just as easily use these tools as an advertiser working on a major campaign. And with our latest addition to YouTube Insight, you will no longer have to rely exclusively on the information you can get from the features described above. Last week we opened Insight, making your data exportable into CSV files. CSV files are open-format files that organize data so it can be moved and analyzed using common spreadsheet software such as Google Docs and Microsoft Excel. Now you can view and manipulate your data any way you like. Looking for ideas? Try comparing the view count for different videos side by side, mapping out where your viewers are coming from over time, or comparing discovery sources by country.

Good luck to all the hopeful YouTube stars among you!

Posted:
I can't think of a better environment than academia for asking hard questions and trying to solve the unsolvable. It's at universities that graduate students perform some of the most exciting and game-changing research in computer science and technology. These university labs foster the students that are going to be the next innovators and leaders in research.

We started the Google Fellowship Program this year to support graduate students in their quest to discover and achieve great things. Our goal was to find the best and brightest PhD students and award them a unique fellowship that highlights their contributions to research and supports them through their graduate studies. Several top universities submitted their students for consideration by research scientists, distinguished engineers and executives at Google. The breadth of research covered by these students and the scope of their vision was astounding. Learning about them was exciting; choosing from among them was truly difficult.

After careful review, we are proud to announce the 2009 Google Fellowship recipients:
  • Roxana Geambasu, Google Fellowship in Cloud Computing (University of Washington)
  • Michael Piatek, Google Fellowship in Computer Networking (University of Washington)
  • David Sontag, Google Fellowship in Machine Learning (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
  • Ali Farhadi, Google Fellowship in Computer Vision Image Interpretation (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
  • Nicholas Chen, Google Fellowship in Human-Computer Interaction (University of Maryland)
  • Siddhartha Sen, Google Fellowship in Fault Tolerant Computing (Princeton University)
  • Ryan Peterson, Google Fellowship in Distributed Systems (Cornell University)
  • Eric Gilbert, Google Fellowship in Social Computing (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
  • Micha Elsner, Google Fellowship in Natural Language Processing (Brown University)
  • Subhransu Maji, Google Fellowship in Computer Vision Object Recognition (University of California, Berkeley)
  • Nicolas Lambert, Google Fellowship in Market Algorithms (Stanford University)
  • Han Liu, Google Fellowship in Statistics (Carnegie Mellon University)
  • Lixia Liu, Google Fellowship in Compiler Technology (Purdue University)
These students exemplify excellence in all areas, and we look forward to the impact that they are sure to have on their fields and the world. The Google Fellowship will provide them with funding to cover their tuition and expenses, plus an Android-powered phone and a Google mentor. Our sincere congratulations to all of them!

Posted:
On Tuesday, we announced Search Options, which are a collection of tools that let you slice and dice your results and generate different views to find what you need faster and easier.


We know that people search for a wide variety of things and we're continually thinking of new search features to help them find information more quickly and easily. The idea for the Search Options panel originated as a way to accommodate the functionality offered by these new features within the search results page. While it might seem like the panel was simple to put together, a lot of collaboration between design, research, and engineering happened behind the scenes in order to produce the best experience possible.

The team began by generating a broad range of directions, which we refined through design sessions and reviews. Confident about a handful of concepts, we began to seek out user feedback using eye-tracking and usability studies. These studies provided us with valuable feedback about how people understood the options in the panel and interacted with them.

Here's an example of an eye-tracking path that illustrates how a participant wanted to get a sense of the quality of the results before deciding what search option to apply:


After each study, we iterated on the designs, making changes to everything from the order and behavior of the options, to the location of the panel and the way people opened and closed it. We also paid close attention to the visual design of the options panel. We wanted it to feel familiar –- not only to work the way you expect from Google, but to look and feel like Google, too. Even though you just started using the panel, we hope it will seem as if it were there all along.

Below, you can see some of our initial concepts for the Search Options panel:

And here are examples of various iterations, once we had a firm concept in mind:


Once the designs were further solidified, we ran a number of tests with a small portion of our live searches to see how many visitors used the Search Options panel and which options were most popular. This quantitative research complemented qualitative feedback to give us a more complete idea of people’s understanding of Search Options. This process brought us to what you see today.

Even now that the Search Options panel has launched, the work is not over. We’ll continue to monitor how people interact with Google Search, find ways to improve the user experience, listen to your feedback, come up with new tools, and, who knows, maybe even add more wonder to the wonder wheel.

Posted:
Almost every Friday, I jump on my bike in San Francisco and ride roughly 45 miles to get to work at the Google campus in Mountain View — it takes about 3 hours. Most people think I'm crazy, but seeing the sun rise over the bay and feeling the rush of the air as I speed down Cortland Hill at close to 30mph on my bike makes it all worth it.

Today and tomorrow, Googlers in 42 offices from around the world are joining me in celebrating Bike to Work Day. Google's participation in this national event began in 2003 with only a handful of participants. Through the years, the tradition has grown from a purely local event to one that involves numerous offices in competition to get the longest distance biked, the most bikers, and the greatest percentage of an office participating.

More than 500 Googlers in the San Francisco Bay Area participated, jumping on their bikes and leaving traffic behind. The benefits to us are clear; not only is biking great for health and fitness, but it also spares the earth a day of pollution.

To see us in action, check out the photo album below.



Posted:
Imagine if you were trying to fly from New York to San Francisco, but your plane was routed through an airport in Asia. And a bunch of other planes were sent that way too, so your flight was backed up and your journey took much longer than expected. That's basically what happened to some of our users today for about an hour, starting at 7:48 am Pacific time.

An error in one of our systems caused us to direct some of our web traffic through Asia, which created a traffic jam. As a result, about 14% of our users experienced slow services or even interruptions. We've been working hard to make our services ultrafast and "always on," so it's especially embarrassing when a glitch like this one happens. We're very sorry that it happened, and you can be sure that we'll be working even harder to make sure that a similar problem won't happen again. All planes are back on schedule now.

Posted:
As we blogged last summer, there are lots of experiments running on Google web search all over the world. Today we've started a temporary experiment that some people might find interesting: we're researching how Google users search the Internet when they or someone they know is feeling sick.

Understanding how people search when they're feeling sick is an important problem to solve, as it can help improve projects like Google Flu Trends, which uses aggregated search data to detect influenza epidemics. Statistics gathered in this experiment may also help Google deliver more relevant search results in the future. For example, someone who searches for [arthritis pain] to understand why an aging parent is experiencing joint pain might want to learn about nearby health facilities and potential treatments, whereas somebody who searches for [arthritis pain] because she is doing a research project might want results about how common arthritis is and what its risk factors are. Rather than make educated guesses about how many users are searching because they're sick, we're running this experiment to collect real statistics. This is not a permanent change, but a short-term experiment. A small percentage of random health-related searches will trigger the poll question.

For example, at the bottom of the search results for [headache], some users will see a survey which asks whether they were searching because they or someone they know has a headache:


Similarly, if you happen to search for [ibuprofen], a common anti-inflammatory drug, you might see a survey which asks whether you were searching because you or somebody you know is taking ibuprofen:


Data collected in this survey will be aggregated across thousands of users. Survey responses will be stored together with the original search query, but will not be associated with email addresses or other personally identifiable information. Survey data will not be used for advertising — it will only be used to help Google improve health-related search results and to help refine public health trends based on aggregated search queries, much like Google Flu Trends. You can learn more about how Google protects users' privacy at our Privacy Center.

For more information, please take a look at our FAQ.

Posted:
Since Gmail launched in 2004 with, what was at the time, an unprecedented 1GB of storage per person, we've been focused on continuously improving the email experience with things like fast search to find messages quickly, mobile support, offline access and integrated IM, and voice and video chat. Gmail was really the beginning of how we're rethinking personal and group productivity, and over the last couple of years, business adoption has accelerated rapidly as the hosted suite has emerged as a powerful, affordable successor to on-premises business technology.

Today, more than a million businesses have moved beyond traditional software and hardware to cloud computing – where data and applications live online – and they're using the Google Apps suite not just for Gmail, but also for shared calendaring, collaborating on files without attachments, private video sharing and quickly deployable internal and external sites. IT managers are refocusing the money and time saved towards core projects that help their individual businesses become more competitive.

Today we're thrilled to share news about another exciting partnership: Valeo is deploying Google Apps to the company's entire office-based workforce.

This marks a significant moment for Google Apps, because Valeo has 30,000 Internet-connected employees, making this one of the largest enterprise deployments of Google Apps to date. Valeo is moving to the cloud with the support of Capgemini, one of the world's most highly regarded technology advisory firms. This deployment across Valeo's distributed workforce of 192 business entities in 27 countries and five continents demonstrates the vast scalability of Google Apps. Whether your company has just five employees in a single room, or tens of thousands of people scattered around the globe, Google Apps can easily provide powerful messaging and collaboration tools.

If you help make technology decisions where you work, we invite you to learn about Google Apps and join the million businesses that have already become more productive by rethinking their approach to technology.

Posted:
Today, we're pleased to announce that the winner of our Knol for Dummies.com contest is "How to talk to your doctor" by Dr. Jennifer Frank, whose knol about "getting the most out of a short-but-sweet office visit" was selected for its quality, clarity, and usefulness. It will be featured on Dummies.com, and she will receive $1,000.

You can read Dr. Frank's knol here. Dr. Frank's tips on are just the type of authoritative content that makes great knols.

Congratulations also go to the four finalists, who will also be featured on Dummies.com:
Thanks to everyone who participated in the competition. We enjoyed learning how to do so many interesting things — from the importance of being nice to the staff at your doctor's office to the difference between spare ribs and babyback ribs — and hope knol readers did too.

Posted:
At today's Searchology event we were pleased to launch Google Sky Map for Android. Google Sky Map turns your Android-powered mobile phone into a dynamic window on the night sky. When you point your phone upwards you will see a map of the brightest stars, constellations and planets in that part of the sky. The next time you see a bright star and want to know what it's called, Sky Map can help you identify it.

Whether you are an aspiring astronomer or just want to impress your date, download Sky Map from the Android Market. For more information watch the video below or visit the Lat Long Blog.



Posted:
Today we are hosting our second Searchology event, to update our users, partners, and customers on the progress we have made in search and tell them about new features. Our first Searchology was two years ago, when we were excited to launch Universal Search, a feature that blended results of different types (web pages, images, videos, books, etc.) on the results page. Since then Universal Search has grown quite a bit, adding new types of results, expanding to new countries, and triggering on ten times as many queries as it did when we launched it.

But as people get more sophisticated at search they are coming to us to solve more complex problems. To stay on top of this, we have spent a lot of time looking at how we can better understand the wide range of information that's on the web and quickly connect people to just the nuggets they need at that moment. We want to help our users find more useful information, and do more useful things with it.

Our first announcement today is a new set of features that we call Search Options, which are a collection of tools that let you slice and dice your results and generate different views to find what you need faster and easier. Search Options helps solve a problem that can be vexing: what query should I ask?

Let's say you are looking for forum discussions about a specific product, but are most interested in ones that have taken place more recently. That's not an easy query to formulate, but with Search Options you can search for the product's name, apply the option to filter out anything but forum sites, and then apply an option to only see results from the past week. Just last week, at our Shareholders' Meeting, I had a woman ask me why she couldn't organize her results by time, with the most recent information appearing first. "Come back Tuesday," I wanted to say!

The Search Options panel also gives you the ability to view your results in new ways. One view gives you more information about each result, including images as well as text, while others let you explore and iterate your search in different ways.

Check out a video tour here:


We think of the Search Options panel as a tool belt that gives you new ways to interact with Google Search, and we plan to fill it with more innovative and useful features in the future.

Another challenging problem we have worked on is better understanding the information you get back from a search. When you see your results from a Google search, how do you decide which one has the best information for you? Or, how can we help you make the best decision about where to click?

We call the set of information we return with each result a "snippet," and today we are announcing that some of our snippets are going to get richer. These "rich snippets" extract and show more useful information from web pages than the preview text that you are used to seeing. For example, if you are thinking of trying out a new restaurant and are searching for reviews, rich snippets could include things like the average review score, the number of reviews, and the restaurant's price range:

In this example, you can quickly see that the Drooling Dog Bar B Q has gotten lots of positive reviews, and if you want to see what other people have said about the restaurant, clicking this result is a good choice.

We can't provide these snippets on our own, so we hope that web publishers will help us by adopting microformats or RDFa standards to mark up their HTML and bring this structured data to the surface. This will help people better understand the information you have on your page so they can spend more time there and less on Google. We will be rolling this feature out gradually to ensure that the quality of Google's search results stays high. If you are a webmaster and are interested in participating, visit the rich snippets help page to learn more.

We also showed a preview of a new tool that we're calling Google Squared. Unlike a normal search engine, Google Squared doesn't find webpages about your topic — instead, it automatically fetches and organizes facts from across the Internet. We'll be opening it up to users later this month on Google Labs.

These features really explore search from a broad and entirely new perspective. Because we realize that when you can't quickly find just the exact information or content you need or want, it's our problem, not yours. And it's a problem with plenty of room left for innovation.  Stay tuned.

Posted:

The 18th International World Wide Web Conference (WWW 2009) was recently held in Madrid. This is the forum in which Larry and Sergey introduced the "Google" search engine back in 1998. Conferences like WWW are highly beneficial for all attendees, as they provide a forum for constructive interactions and discussions among the diverse, global community that is contributing so much to the advancement of the web. As one of the major sponsors this year, Google contributed significantly in various scientific and social forums. Here's a short report of those activities:
  • Google and the Prado Museum collaboration: In January 2009, we announced a collaboration between Google Earth and Spain’s Museo del Prado, which lets people zoom in on some of the gallery’s main portraits and view them in a resolution so fine -- up to 14,000 megapixels -- that even individual brush strokes and cracks in the varnish are clearly visible. The Prado Museum has become the first art gallery in the world to provide access to and navigation of its collection in Google Earth. The initiative includes 14 of the Prado’s most famous paintings -- works by Francisco de Goya, Diego Velázquez, Hieronymus Bosch, Peter Paul Rubens, and more. Such ultra-high resolution imaging, enabling users to virtually feel, see and be present with the original masterpieces, is just one way in which the web can make important contributions to the art community. To celebrate this, Google hosted an event at the Prado Museum, where guests received a guided tour of some of the main exhibits, and had the opportunity to network with fellow researchers, academics and engineers, as well as Google's own Vint Cerf.
  • Research Contributions: Google contributed to the WWW conference by authoring or co-authoring several papers and presentations. I gave a keynote speech on The Continuing Metamorphosis of the web (you can read more about that topic on the Google Research blog). Some other papers to highlight are:
-- Sitemaps: Above and Beyond the Crawl of Duty, Uri Schonfeld, N. Shivakumar
-- Estimating the ImpressionRank of Web Pages, Z. Bar-Yossef & M. Gurevich
-- Detecting The Origin Of Text Segments Efficiently, O. Abdel-Hamid, B. Behzadi, S. Christoph & M. Henzinger
-- What's Up CAPTCHA? A CAPTCHA Based On Image Orientation, R. Gossweiler, M. Kamvar & S. Baluja
-- Computer and iPhones and Mobile Phones, oh my! A logs-based comparison of search users on different devices, M. Kamvar, M. Keller, R. Patel, and Y. Xu
-- Collaborative Filterin for Orkut Communities: Discover of User Latent Behaviour, W. Chen, J. Chu, J. Luan, H. Bai, Y. Wang, and E. Chang.
-- Fast Dynamic Reranking in Large Graphs, P. Sarkar, A. Moore
-- WEB 2.0: Blind to an Accessible New World, J. Hailpern, L.Guarino-Reid, R. Boardman, S. Annam
-- How Opinions are Received by Online Communities: A Case Study on Amazon.com Helpfulness Votes, C. Danescu, G. Kossinets, J. Kleinberg, L. Lee
-- Bid Optimization for Broad Match Ad Auctions, E. E. Dar, Y. Mansour, V. Mirrokni, M. Muthukrishnan & U. Nadav
-- General Auction Mechanism for Search Advertising, G. Aggarwal, S. Muthukrishnan, D. Pal & M. Pal

  • Best Paper Award and the Internet Monetization Track: The WWW program committee changed the best paper and poster process this year. They first chose several nominated papers from different tracks, and after seeking feedback from conference attendees, they chose their best paper: Ashish Goel's and Kamesh Munagala's Hybrid Keyword Search Auctions. The authors of this paper propose a unified approach to an auction for cost-per-click and cost-per-impression settings, and show promising properties of their proposed auction. The paper was presented in the Internet Monetization Track at WWW — a new track which, despite its short term at WWW, became very popular this year. Other tracks like web search, data mining, and the social web have been active at WWW for years and already attract many high-quality research papers. The best poster award went to a paper co-authored by Google's Monika Henzinger about Purely URL-based Topic Classification.
Before closing, I want to return to the Prado Museum collaboration with Google Earth: Now that there is really high resolution imaging and the ability to distribute it to a vast audience, the benefits of combining art and technology are greatly increased. In another medium, witness the success of the Metropolitan Opera's high definition broadcasts that are bringing that art form to a much larger audience. Another place where Google recently helped fuse technology and the arts was with the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. In the case of fine art, our collaboration with the Prado museum enables much broader access to the masterpieces while also providing museum attendees with an unparalleled opportunity to study details of the works before and after a visit. For example, the intense detail in Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights is difficult to comprehend in front of the large, heavily visited triptych, but seeing the painting in person after some previous study makes it far more exciting. So, it would seem that we can use technology in the art world to achieve benefits for all.

Posted:
There's been a lot of debate lately about the growing amount of energy needed to power the Internet, and we wanted to weigh in on the discussion. A few months ago, I first blogged about the about amount of energy used in one Google search. Our engineers crunched the numbers and found that an average query uses about 1 kJ of energy and emits about 0.2 grams of carbon dioxide. But those raw numbers don't really put the environmental impact of searching the Internet into perspective. To add some context, below is data about the C02 impact of some everyday activities and items compared to Google searching:

ActivityGoogle Searches
CO2 emissions of an average daily newspaper (PDF) (100% recycled paper) 850
A glass of orange juice1,050
One load of dishes in an EnergyStar dishwasher (PDF)
5,100
A five mile trip in the average U.S. automobile10,000
A cheeseburger15,000
Electricity consumed by the average U.S. household in one month3,100,000

We work hard to provide our users with the fastest products using the least amount of energy. We have a team of dedicated engineers focused on designing and building the most efficient data centers in the world. In fact, through efficiency innovations, we have managed to cut energy usage in our data centers by over 50 percent, so we're using less than half the energy to run our data centers as the industry average. This efficiency means that in the time it takes to do a Google search, your own personal computer will likely use more energy than we will use to answer your query.

And the energy used by computers is growing; people are more plugged-in today than ever before in history. There are more than one billion PCs and laptops currently in use, and that number is expected to grow to four billion by 2020. We've got cell phones, PDAs, iPods, and GPS devices — not to mention the data centers that store all of our digital information "in the cloud." The electricity needed to run all of our computers, gadgets, and gizmos is growing and now accounts for half of all ICT emissions. (ICT stands for "information and communications technology.")

Although the amount of energy used to power ICT is growing, it's important to measure all of the ways information technology helps us save energy too. A study by The Climate Group, in fact, shows that ICT emissions pay for themselves (PDF) (and then some) by enabling significant reductions in emissions by other sectors of the economy. After all, it's much more efficient to move electrons than to move atoms. "Virtual" tools like email, video-conferencing, and search engines replace more carbon-intensive activities like snail mail, business travel, and driving.

We can still make progress at improving computing efficiency across the industry, however, and Google is committed to doing so. In 2007 we co-founded the Climate Savers Computing Initiative, a non-profit organization committed to reducing global CO2 emissions from the operation of computers by 54 million tons a year by 2010. Check out their website for more information on how you can reduce the environmental impact of your own computer use.

Update 7/16/09: Google's Q2 2009 data center efficiency measurements are now available here

Posted:
We're pleased to announce our 2009 Anita Borg Scholars and Finalists. We established the Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship in 2003 to encourage undergraduate and graduate women completing degrees in computer science and related fields to excel in computing and technology and become active role models and leaders in the field. This year, we're awarding 50 scholars and finalists in the U.S., 18 in Canada and 56 in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. We'll also be awarding scholarships to female students in Australia and New Zealand later this year.

In addition to receiving academic scholarships, all of our winners will be invited to participate in all-expenses-paid networking retreats featuring workshops, speakers, panelists, breakout sessions and social activities at Google offices.

For more information on the Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship and other Google scholarship opportunities, visit our scholarships page.

Congratulations to all of our winners!

The 2009 U.S. Anita Borg Scholars
  • Dana Forsthoefel - Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Divya Ramachandran - University of California-Berkeley
  • Elaine Short - Yale University
  • Isabel Mattos - Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Jennifer Roberts - Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Katherine Corner - University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Leshell Hatley - University of Maryland College Park
  • Manjari Narayan - Rice University
  • Mary David - University of Southern California
  • Natalie Freed - Arizona State University Main
  • Norma Savage - University of California-Santa Barbara
  • Ramya Raghavendra - University of California-Santa Barbara
  • Saleema Amershi - University of Washington
  • Sara Sinclair - Dartmouth College
  • Sarah Cooley - Oregon State University
  • Sarah Loos - Indiana University Bloomington
  • Sheena Lewis - Northwestern University
  • Xuexin (Alice) Zhu - Harvey Mudd College
  • Yi-Chieh Wu - Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • YoungJoo Jeong - Carnegie Mellon University
The 2009 U.S. Anita Borg Finalists
  • Alyssa Daw - California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo
  • Angela Yen - Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Carrie Ruppar - Graduate Program TBD
  • Chaitrali Amrutkar - Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Cindy Rubio Gonzalez - University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Corey Toler-Franklin - Princeton University
  • Ekaterina Gonina - University of California-Berkeley
  • Jacinda Shelly - Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Jennifer Harrison - Arizona State University
  • Julia Schwarz - University of Washington
  • Kelli Ireland - University of Pittsburgh
  • Kristi Morton - University of Washington
  • Krystle de Mesa - University of California, San Diego
  • Kyle Rector - Oregon State University
  • Manasi Vartak - Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • Margaret Leibovic - Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Maria Kazandjieva - Stanford University
  • Pinar Muyan-Ozcelik - University of California-Davis
  • Rachel Sealfon - Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Rachelle Fuhrer - University of California, San Diego
  • Sarah Shiplett - Wellesley College
  • Shilpa Arora - Carnegie Mellon University
  • Sneha Popley - Texas Christian University
  • Sonal Gupta - University of Texas at Austin
  • Sujatha Nagarajan - University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Supriya Vadlamani - Cornell University
  • Tracy Chou - Stanford University
  • Valerie Yoder - Westminster College
  • Wendy Stevenson - Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
  • Xia Zhou - University of California-Santa Barbara
The 2009 Canada Anita Borg Scholars
  • April Khademi – University Of Toronto
  • Jenna Cameron – University Of Western Ontario
  • Jing Xiang – University Of British Columbia
  • Pooja Viswanathan – University Of British Columbia
The 2009 Canada Anita Borg Finalists
  • Barbara Macdonald – University Of Waterloo
  • Fahimeh Raja – University Of British Columbia
  • Gail Carmichael – Carleton University
  • Kate Tsoukalas (withdrawn) - Simon Fraser University
  • Katherine Gunion – University Of Victoria
  • Marjorie Locke – University Of Western Ontario
  • Melanie Tupper – Dalhousie University
  • Michelle Annett – University Of Alberta
  • Mona Mojdeh – University Of Waterloo
  • Ozge Yeloglu – Dalhousie University
  • Phillipa Gill – University Of Toronto
  • Sarah Carruthers – University Of Victoria
  • Somayeh Moazeni – University Of Waterloo
  • Xiaoyuan XU – Simon Fraser University
  • Zahra Ahmadian – University Of British Columbia
The 2009 Europe, Middle East and North Africa Scholars
  • Anna Magdalena Michalska - University of Warsaw (Poland)
  • Bianca Madalina Milatinovici - RWTH Aachen (Germany)
  • Chia Ching Ooi - University of Freiburg (Gemany)
  • Christiane Lammersen - Technische Universität Dortmund (Germany)
  • Christiane Peters - Eindhoven University of Technology (Netherlands)
  • Daria Yartseva - Lomonosov Moscow State University (Russia)
  • Ekaterina Volkova - Lomonosov Moscow State University (Russia)
  • Elisa Rondini - University College London (U.K.)
  • Katayon Radkhah - Technische Universität Darmstadt (Germany)
  • Keghani Kristelle Kouzoujian - Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (Qatar)
  • Keren Censor - Technion - Israel Institute of Technology (Israel)
  • Kira Radinsky - Technion - Israel Institute of Technology (Israel)
  • Iulia Ion - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (Switzerland)
  • Ligia Nicoleta Nistor - University of Oxford (U.K.)
  • Maja Temerinac-Ott - University of Freiburg (Germany)
  • Marian George - Alexandria University (Egypt)
  • Moran Yassour - The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel)
  • Regina Bohnert - Universität Tübingen (Germany)
  • Selen Basol - Sabanci University (Turkey)
  • Suzan Bayhan - Bogazici University (Turkey)
  • Tali Treibitz - Technion - Israel Institute of Technology (Israel)
The 2009 Europe, Middle East and North Africa Finalists
  • Adrienn Szabo - Eötvös Loránd University (Hungary)
  • Anastasia Shakhshneyder - Novosibirsk State University (Russia)
  • Andreea Voicu - Eindhoven University of Technology (Netherlands)
  • Anna Astrakova - Novosibirsk State University (Russia)
  • Anna Sperotto - University of Twente (Netherlands)
  • Anna Katarzyna Zych - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (Switzerland)
  • Birgit Vera Schmidt - Graz University of Technology (Austria)
  • Didem Gozupek - Bogazici University (Turkey)
  • Elena Smirnova - INRIA Sophia Antipolis (France)
  • Franziska Huth - Saarland University (Germany)
  • Gaya Nadarajan - The University of Edinburgh (U.K.)
  • Irina Calciu - Jacobs University Bremen (Germany)
  • Kerstin Bauer - Technische Universität Kaiserslautern (Germany)
  • Laia Subirats i Mate - Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (Spain)
  • Limor Leibovich - Technion - Israel Institute of Technology (Israel)
  • Lina AL Kanj - American University of Beirut (Lebanon)
  • Lu Feng - University of Oxford (U.K.)
  • Lucia Fedorova - Czech Technical University (Czech Republic)
  • Maria-Camilla Fiazza - University of Verona (Italy)
  • Maya Kabkab - American University of Beirut (Lebanon)
  • Melinda Toth - Eötvös Loránd University (Hungary)
  • Naama Elefant - The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel)
  • Nadezda Osadchieva - Bauman Moscow State Technical University (Russia)
  • Natalia Criado - Universidad Politécnica de Valencia (Spain)
  • Nina Kargapolova - Novosibirsk State University (Russia)
  • Noga Zewi - Technion - Israel Institute of Technology (Israel)
  • Noura Yousef Salhi - Birzeit University (Palestine)
  • Oana Tifrea - Vienna University of Technology (Austria)
  • Rehab Khalid Alnemr - Hasso Plattner Institute (Germany)
  • Riina Maigre - University of Technology (Estonia)
  • Talya Meltzer - The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel)
  • Tamar Aizikowitz - Technion - Israel Institute of Technology (Israel)
  • Unaizah Hanum Obaidellah - University of Sussex (U.K.)
  • Yana Momchilova Mileva - Saarland University (Germany)
  • Yimeng Yang - University of Twente (Netherlands)

Posted:
In February we invited U.S. kids to exercise their creativity by participating in our second annual Doodle 4 Google contest. In response, we received more than 28,000 doodles from kids representing all 50 states, a 70 percent increase from last year. Inspired by this year's theme, "What I Wish for the World," kids have expressed a variety of wishes, ranging from a world with a pristine environment to a world where imaginations can run free. We were impressed by the incredible spectrum of artwork we received this year, but even more amazed by the artistic talents of the kids who created them. Thanks to all those who doodled with us!

Today, we're pleased to announce the approximately 400 state finalists and the 40 regional winners. They were chosen by a panel of independent judges, all experts in design, but now it's your turn. We invite you to help us select the four national finalists by voting on your favorite doodle in each grade group. You can place your votes on the Doodle 4 Google website until May 18 at midnight Pacific time. We'll announce the results — along with the winner — on May 20th, and the winning doodle will appear on our homepage the following day. If you happen to be visiting New York City, you can drop in and see the doodles of all 40 finalists in an exhibit at the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, which will run May 21 - July 5, 2009.

So please take a look at our regional winners' inspiring doodles, vote on your favorites, and help us decide which of these great doodles will be seen on the Google homepage by millions of people around the world.

Update @ 10:00 AM PST: This post was revised to more accurately reflect the number of state finalists.

Update on May 20, 2009 @ 10:45 AM: We've posted all of the state finalists — several hundred doodles in all —on the Doodle 4 Google website and we encourage you to take a look at the beautiful artwork created by these very talented young artists.