Friday, December 25, 2009

[G] Happy Holidays

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Inside AdSense: Happy Holidays

We'd like to send our best wishes to all our publishers around the world. Wherever you're spending this holiday season, we hope that it's filled with much love, warmth, and happiness.



Happy Holidays!

Posted by Dia Muthana on behalf of the Google AdSense Team
URL: http://adsense.blogspot.com/2009/12/happy-holidays.html

[G] This week in search 12/25/09

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Official Google Blog: This week in search 12/25/09

This is part of a regular series of posts on search experience updates that runs on Fridays. Look for the label This week in search and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

Googlers are all about the holidays, and we're always delighted to bring some extra holiday cheer to the web. Here are some of this year's festive digital offerings for you.

Holiday Google doodles
As you likely noticed, the Google homepage has been adorned with a fun series of holiday postcards this week. From snowmen to festive palm trees, each doodle depicts a postcard with a fun seasonal scene. Did you miss any of them? Check out all five days at our holiday logo gallery.

NORAD tracks Santa
This week, in partnership with NORAD, we helped share the excitement of following Santa Claus's travels with Google Maps and the Google Earth plugin. At the NORAD Santa site, children have been following the jolly journey from chimney to chimney across the globe. Don't miss the fun YouTube video of Santa's trip last year, as well as some great holiday games to play, at NORADSanta.org.

From all of us at Google, have a safe and happy holiday season. We'll see you back here next year!

Posted by Andrew Schulte, Associate Product Marketing Manager
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/12/this-week-in-search-122509.html

Thursday, December 24, 2009

[G] Template spotlight: Gift tags

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Official Google Docs Blog: Template spotlight: Gift tags

Once you've bought all your gifts and wrapped them, the last step is to label them. The holiday gift tag (string of lights theme) and holiday gift tag (snowflake theme) templates are perfect for adding that final touch. Simply customize the labels and print them out.



If you're looking for more themes, Avery Dennison also has some great gift tag templates to choose from.

Posted by: Peter Harbison, Product Marketing Manager
URL: http://googledocs.blogspot.com/2009/12/template-spotlight-gift-tags.html

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

[G] Looking sharp for the holidays

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Google Photos Blog: Looking sharp for the holidays

Posted by Thomas Kang & Jon Wray, Software Engineers

A helpful feature of Picasa Web Albums is that when you view photos, they're automatically resized to fit your browser. We always display the largest-size photo that will fit inside your browser window, up to 1600 pixels if you have a nice big display. This resizing happens behind the scenes and doesn't require any input from you.

Here's how it works: when you upload a photo to Picasa Web Albums, our photo servers store it and create a couple of smaller versions of the photo. Later, when you click to view a photo, your browser sends a request to the servers asking for the version that will fit best. If the size matches one of the stored versions, that one is served directly. But if the request is for some in-between size that doesn't exist, the servers create it on the fly. And of course, the resized photo always preserves the size ratio of the original so it's not distorted, and we don't scale photos to be larger than the original.


As you can imagine, all this server processing can get pretty intensive. Because loading your photos as quickly as possible is really important to us, until now we streamlined our servers to just resize the photo and send it out right away. But since we recently implemented some optimizations that
made Picasa Web Albums much faster overall, we decided to take advantage of the new speed improvements by doing a little extra processing to improve the look of our photos.

A well-known issue with all digital photos is that when a photo is resized, the sharp corners and edges look softer from the color blending that occurs. The standard fix for this is to apply a sharpening filter, which brings dulled edges back into razor-sharp focus. As long as you're careful not to over-sharpen, this can help resized photos look much clearer.

Original Image:

Sharpened Image:


From our extensive testing, we found that adding a little bit of sharpening can make a subtle but noticeable improvement in the visual quality of resized photos in Picasa Web Albums. So we recently added some logic to the server processing code that adds the appropriate amount of sharpening when necessary, before sending it out to the browser. We also reduced the image compression slightly to help preserve the clarity of the fine details in the photos that the sharpening brings out. To make sure you don't notice any latency impact on your Picasa Web Albums viewing experience, we're only applying sharpening to newly uploaded and smaller versions of resized photos for now. And just to be clear, we never alter your original photos – we just create new versions as needed whenever we resize and sharpen.

These sharpening and image compression improvements are our first step towards improving the quality of all images in Picasa Web Albums. We're committed to making your photos look as good as possible, and we're investigating other ways to improve the visual quality of your photos without impacting site performance or excessively altering the look of your original photos. On behalf of the entire Picasa team, happy holidays! Take lots of pictures as you gather with your friends and family to celebrate the season, and we'll see you next year.
URL: http://googlephotos.blogspot.com/2009/12/looking-sharp-for-holidays.html

[G] An update on our AdMob acquisition

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Google Public Policy Blog: An update on our AdMob acquisition

Posted by Paul Feng, Group Product Manager

Since we announced our plans to acquire AdMob, we've been excited about the positive reaction -- particularly from advertisers and publishers who have told us that they're enthusiastic about the possibilities for how the combination of AdMob and Google can improve the effectiveness of mobile display advertising.

As we said when we announced the deal, we don't see any regulatory issues with this deal, because the rapidly growing mobile advertising space is highly competitive with more than a dozen mobile ad networks.

That said, we know that closer scrutiny has been one consequence of Google's success, and we've been talking to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over the past few weeks. This week we received what's called a "second request," which means that the FTC is asking for more information so that they can continue to review the deal.

While this means we won't be closing right away, we're confident that the FTC will conclude that the rapidly growing mobile advertising space will remain highly competitive after this deal closes. And we'll be working closely and cooperatively with them as they continue their review.
URL: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2009/12/update-on-our-admob-acquisition.html

[G] Indigenous Mapping: A new Google technology workshop for tribal peoples

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Google LatLong: Indigenous Mapping: A new Google technology workshop for tribal peoples


Indigenous people worldwide face special challenges in planning, policy and advocacy work. Issues such as cultural preservation, sovereignty, land use management, and handling mineral rights are just a few that they have to tackle. Recognizing this, we're happy to announce that Google and the Indigenous Mapping Network are teaming up to put on a two day workshop on the Google campus to teach people from native communities how to use Google's mapping technologies.

The mission of IMN has been to empower native communities by connecting them with the tools they need to protect, preserve, and enhance their way of life within their aboriginal territories. And they endeavor to bridge the gap between traditional "mapping" practices and modern mapping technologies.

On February 25th and 26th, 2010, Google and IMN will host a workshop on the Google campus for members and staff of indigenous groups who want to learn about Google geospatial and mobile technologies. This hands-on workshop will approach Google technologies with the special concerns of indigenous communities in mind, and will focus on the technical aspects of using Google Earth, Google Maps, Sketchup, Android mobile phones and Open Data Kit, among other technologies. Special attention will be given to:
We are very excited to be hosting this event, and look forward to a long relationship with IMN. For more information and to register for this workshop, go to the IMN website.

Posted by Mano Marks, Geo Developer Advocate, and Rebecca Moore, Manager, Google Earth Outreach
URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2009/12/indigenous-mapping-new-google.html

[G] It's been real, 2009

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Official Gmail Blog: It's been real, 2009

Posted by Jason Toff, Associate Product Marketing Manager

Ah 2009...turning five, finally shedding that beta label, and adding more than 40 new features. As we wind down after a busy year, here's a look back at a handful of our favorite additions to Gmail.  We hope you enjoy trying them out as much as we enjoyed building them.
On behalf of the entire Gmail team, happy holidays! See you next year.

URL: http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2009/12/its-been-real-2009.html

[G] Smarter holiday shopping with Google Chrome Extensions (beta!)

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Google Chrome Blog: Smarter holiday shopping with Google Chrome Extensions (beta!)

Since we launched extensions for Google Chrome on the beta channel for Windows and Linux a few weeks ago, we've seen over 1,000 extensions submitted to the gallery. Several of them have already become browser staples for me. But since I've been spending most all of my free time online doing holiday shopping this December, I found myself relying on a few extensions to find the perfect gifts and great deals.

If you're doing some last-minute holiday shopping in the coming days, one extension to try out is InvisibleHand. This extension discreetly notifies you if a product you are looking at on a particular online store is available for less from another retailer.

Also, the Google Checkout team recently released Promotion Notifier, an extension that alerts you if the online store you're browsing is offering special deals for purchases made through Google Checkout. If so, a notification banner pops up with details such as the discount amount and the minimum purchase required.



Another extension you might find useful is the one created by Woot.com. With just one click to the extension's icon, you can find some really memorable items that are on sale on a particular day at Woot.com (like night vision goggles!).

If you're on the beta channel for Windows or Linux versions of Google Chrome, visit the gallery to browse many more extensions (including extensions from eBay and Kaboodle) that might make last-minute online shopping faster, easier, and maybe a little less stressful. Happy Holidays!




Posted by Christos Apartoglou, Product Marketing Manager
URL: http://chrome.blogspot.com/2009/12/smarter-holiday-shopping-with-google.html

[G] Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Track Santa and his sleigh with NORAD

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Google LatLong: Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Track Santa and his sleigh with NORAD

[Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog]

Sipping warm cider, watching the snow fall, unwrapping gifts — these holiday traditions always seem to produce many of the year's sweetest memories. Several years ago, we added another holiday tradition to our list — helping NORAD keep tabs on Santa every Christmas Eve.

NORAD's Santa-tracking dates back to 1955, when a Sears and Roebuck magazine ad in Colorado Springs accidentally directed readers to call NORAD instead of the 'Talk-to-Santa' hotline they were advertising. Embracing the holiday sprit, the folks at NORAD provided callers with Santa's location according to their radar and have tracked his journey ever since. Many years later, in 2004, the same holiday spirit inspired us to use Google Earth — it was called "Keyhole Earth Viewer" back then — to display Santa's voyage around the world on Christmas Eve. We hosted the entire tracker on a single machine and were excited to have an audience of 25,000 following St. Nick's flight with us that night.

Our scrappy Santa tracker has come a long way since 2004. We added "Santa-cam" videos for select locations around the world, 3D SketchUp models of Santa's sleigh and his North Pole home, the official feed of Santa's location from NORAD headquarters and several other improvements. With more technical resources to support this richer experience, and the wonderful efforts of our Santa-tracking team, 2008 was the biggest year ever for NORAD Tracks Santa — more than eight million people tuned in to track Santa last Christmas Eve.




As soon as he returned to North Pole last year, Santa and his elves began planning for his 2009 flight — and we were no different. We thought hard about the different ways we could improve the Santa tracker and after a year of planning, we think this year's will be the best one yet. As usual, we'll display Santa's location, according to NORAD, in Google Maps and Google Earth at www.noradsanta.org. But we've made a few improvements to make tracking Santa even easier. Namely, we'll display Santa's journey with the Google Earth Plug-in, directly on the NORAD Tracks Santa site, instead of using the Google Earth client. As a result, you'll be able to follow Santa in Google Earth's immersive, 3D environment directly within your web browser. For more information about the plug-in and why we chose to use this tool to track Santa, have a look at our blog post on the Google Geo Developers Blog.

We're also excited about the many different ways you can keep track of Santa's location this Christmas Eve. Like last year, Santa will be trackable by visiting m.noradsanta.org on a mobile device, or searching for "Santa" on Google Maps for Mobile, available for most mobile phones (read more on the Google Mobile Blog). Santa's location will also be updated on Twitter with @noradsanta and you can keep up with news about Santa's flight with our real-time search feature.

To track Santa, visit www.noradsanta.org starting at 2am ET on Christmas Eve. There, you'll see a Google Map that will display Santa's location over the course of the day. To visualize Santa in Google Earth, just click "Track Santa in Google Earth" and you'll see St. Nick flying through Google Earth in your browser. If you don't have the Earth plug-in, click here — it will be installed automatically when you download Google Earth 5.1.

We hope you enjoy tracking Santa with us this year. And on behalf of everyone at Google — happy holidays and have a happy new year!

Posted by Brian McClendon, VP Engineering and Bruno Bowden, Senior Software Engineer
URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2009/12/now-dasher-now-dancer-track-santa-and.html

[G] Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Track Santa and his sleigh with NORAD

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Official Google Blog: Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Track Santa and his sleigh with NORAD

Sipping warm cider, watching the snow fall, unwrapping gifts — these holiday traditions always seem to produce many of the year's sweetest memories. Several years ago, we added another holiday tradition to our list — helping NORAD keep tabs on Santa every Christmas Eve.

NORAD's Santa-tracking dates back to 1955, when a Sears and Roebuck magazine ad in Colorado Springs accidentally directed readers to call NORAD instead of the "Talk-to-Santa" hotline they were advertising. Embracing the holiday spirit, the folks at NORAD provided callers with Santa's location according to their radar and have tracked his journey ever since. Many years later, in 2004, the same holiday spirit inspired us to use Google Earth — it was called "Keyhole Earth Viewer" back then — to display Santa's voyage around the world on Christmas Eve. We hosted the entire tracker on a single machine and were excited to have an audience of 25,000 following St. Nick's flight with us that night.

Our scrappy Santa tracker has come a long way since 2004. We added "Santa-cam" videos for select locations around the world, 3D SketchUp models of Santa's sleigh and his North Pole home, the official feed of Santa's location from NORAD headquarters and several other improvements. With more technical resources to support this richer experience, and the wonderful efforts of our Santa-tracking team, 2008 was the biggest year ever for NORAD Tracks Santa — more than eight million people tuned in to track Santa last Christmas Eve.



As soon as he returned to North Pole last year, Santa and his elves began planning for his 2009 flight — and we were no different. We thought hard about the different ways we could improve the Santa tracker and after a year of planning, we think this year's will be the best one yet. As usual, we'll display Santa's location, according to NORAD, in Google Maps and Google Earth at www.noradsanta.org. But we've made a few improvements to make tracking Santa even easier. Namely, we'll display Santa's journey with the Google Earth plug-in, directly on the NORAD Tracks Santa site, instead of using the Google Earth client. As a result, you'll be able to follow Santa in Google Earth's immersive, 3D environment directly within your web browser. For more information about the plugin and why we chose to use this tool to track Santa, have a look at our post on the Google Geo Developers Blog.

We're also excited about the many different ways you can keep track of Santa's location this Christmas Eve. Like last year, Santa will be trackable by visiting m.noradsanta.org on a mobile device, or searching for "Santa" on Google Maps for Mobile, available for most mobile phones (read more on the Google Mobile Blog). Santa's location will also be updated on Twitter with @noradsanta and you can keep up with news about Santa's flight with our real-time search feature.

To track Santa, visit www.noradsanta.org starting at 2am ET on Christmas Eve. There, you'll see a Google Map that will display Santa's location over the course of the day. To visualize Santa in Google Earth, just click "Track Santa in Google Earth" and you'll see St. Nick flying through Google Earth in your browser. If you don't have the Earth plug-in, click here — it will be installed automatically when you download Google Earth 5.1.

We hope you enjoy tracking Santa with us this year. And on behalf of everyone at Google — happy holidays and have a happy new year!

Posted by Brian McClendon, VP Engineering and Bruno Bowden, Senior Software Engineer
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/12/now-dasher-now-dancer-track-santa-and.html

[G] Follow Santa's Journey!

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YouTube Blog: Follow Santa's Journey!

Oooh, it's almost Christmas! And that means that Santa is about to leave his digs at the North Pole to embark upon his '09 World Tour, placing presents under the trees of good little girls and boys all over the planet. Where will he be, and when will he make it to your house?

You can find the answer at www.noradsanta.org. You see, every year, NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, tracks Santa's journey from the time he lifts off from his Arctic village to his final stop in Hawaii at the end of a looooooooong night. You can join the ride at Noradsanta.org or try m.noradsanta.org if you prefer to do your Santa tracking on a mobile phone. You'll also want to subscribe to the NORAD Tracks Santa YouTube channel, which will contain videos of many of his stops around the world, all captured by NORAD's Santa Cam network.

Take a peek at the fun that ensued last year and brace yourself for 2009's merry ride:



Jeff Martin, Santa Wannabe, recently watched "How to Grow a Beard in 3 Easy Steps!"


URL: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/youtube/PKJx/~3/5Gp7GMHR4u8/follow-santas-journey.html

[G] Ho Ho Ho! Follow Santa's journey around the world on your phone

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Official Google Mobile Blog: Ho Ho Ho! Follow Santa's journey around the world on your phone

Like most kids, all I wanted to do on Christmas Eve was stay up and wait for Santa to arrive. One year, I went downstairs in the middle of the night and sat down in front of the Christmas tree to wait for Santa. Unfortunately, I soon fell asleep. When I awoke on Christmas morning the presents were under the tree and the milk and cookies I left out for Santa had been eaten. I had missed him. But next to the plate of crumbs, there was a note... from Santa himself! He thanked me for trying to wait up for him. I was so excited that I got a note from Santa that I forgot all about having fallen asleep and missing him. Every year after that I made sure to go to bed extra early to make sure that Santa stopped by.

This year, no one needs to go to bed early to make sure Santa comes over. Since NORAD is tracking Santa's journey around the world, you can find his current location on the 24th. If you see he's getting close by, just hop into bed. And if he's already passed by your house but you don't yet see presents (or coal!) under the tree, rest assured he'll be looping back once you're asleep. Read more about how NORAD tracks Santa on our Official Google Blog.

To make following Santa's journey even easier, you can find him on your phone too. Make sure you have Google Maps for mobile (available for most phones). Then just search! Just as you'd put in a query for "pizza" to find pizza places, or "San Antonio" to find it on a map, you can search for "Santa" to find where he is at the time. This way, you can stay up to date whether you're lounging by the fire at a ski lodge, stuck in traffic en route to Grandma's (get your kids to look it up for you!), or at the dinner table. To get started, go to m.noradsanta.org on your mobile phone, or just search for "Santa" in Google Maps for mobile on December 24th.


Posted by Matt Aldridge, Mobile Elf
URL: http://googlemobile.blogspot.com/2009/12/ho-ho-ho-follow-santas-journey-around.html

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

[G] Template spotlight: Gift shopping list

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Official Google Docs Blog: Template spotlight: Gift shopping list

Keeping track of gifts can be overwhelming, especially when you're buying and delivering gifts for people in a lot of different places. If you haven't done all of your holiday shopping or deliveries yet, check out the holiday gift shopping list template. You can reference the list on the go from your mobile phone and update it from any computer.



Posted by: Peter Harbison, Product Marketing Manager
URL: http://googledocs.blogspot.com/2009/12/template-spotlight-gift-shopping-list.html

[G] Merry Music: MusicBrainz's Latest Summit and 10th Anniversary

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Google Open Source Blog: Merry Music: MusicBrainz's Latest Summit and 10th Anniversary

The yearly MusicBrainz summit serves an important function in building our community: we talk about issues facing MusicBrainz and we plan the road map for MusicBrainz projects. The summits are usually scheduled to allow as many people to attend as possible and this year we chose Nürnberg, Germany as our location. MusicBrainz contributor Nikolai "Pronik" Prokoschenko lives in Nürnberg and was our local contract and ended up planning most of the summit.

Pronik found us a conference room that we rented for the entire day, complete with open WiFi, which is important if you plan to have a room full of geeks. He also found us a cheap Gasthof that provided lodgings slightly better than a Hostel for a mere 20€ per person per night — a really good deal for Europe. The evening before the summit we all sat in the Gasthof and were treated to some confusing German/Greek cuisine with some of the most rude service any of us have ever encountered. But, our group is used to dealing with the crude Internet public, so we managed to laugh off the horrible service and still have a great time.

To our luck there was a grocery store right next door to our Gasthof and we commenced another successful crowd sourced breakfast. Four people were each given 20€ with the instructions to buy food/drinks that they would like to eat/drink for breakfast/lunch. No collusion was allowed between people! Once the shopping was complete we walked to the conference room, settled in and dove into the masses of food we'd collected. Many tasty bread rolls with jam, nutella, cold cuts and cheese were consumed. Of course we had fun things like a case of Bionade, juices, tea, gummy bears and chocolate. Crowd sourcing breakfast takes a potentially frustrating chore and makes it fun for everyone.


Plus, Pronik and his mate Kira brought a MusicBrainz decorated cake to celebrate 10 years of MusicBrainz!


As people were eating, we started to collect an unconference-like agenda of what people wanted to talk about. We decided to have a detailed state of the project talk including recent developments from meeting our customers in Europe. We also talked about current development processes and some of the problems associated with these processes. Oliver Charles, a 2008 Google Summer of Code™ student, gave an introduction on how to hack on the MusicBrainz server, based on his work from the last year.

Most of the time was spent discussing new features for once we release our much anticipated Next Generation Schema. At times we managed to get into deep philosophical discussions about what MusicBrainz is and what it should be. At other times we discussed light hearted topics with lots of joking. These summits do wonders for building our community and getting people on the same page. We manage to explore many topics and reach consensus on many points in one day instead of spending weeks on the same discussions online.

Finally, in the evening we cleaned up our space and retired to a local beer hall where we continued the discussion in a less formal manner. If you're interested, we posted all the session notes from the summit on our wiki. All in all, this event was fun and not much effort to put on — thanks to Pronik! On another happy note, 1/3 of the people in attendance were women, which is much better than most tech summits I've attended.

In total we spent about $1500, including all the food, drinks, lodgings and one person's travel costs. For a summit with 12 people, I think we did rather well! I call that Google's support well spent — thanks again for supporting MusicBrainz, Google!

By Robert Kaye, Executive Director, Metabrainz Foundation
URL: http://google-opensource.blogspot.com/2009/12/merry-music-musicbrainzs-latest-summit.html

[G] Announcing our Q4 Research Awards

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Official Google Research Blog: Announcing our Q4 Research Awards

Posted by Maggie Johnson, Director of Education & University Relations and Jeff Walz, Head of University Relations

We do a significant amount of in-house research at Google, but we also maintain strong ties with academic institutions globally, pursuing innovative research in core areas relevant to our mission. One way in which we support academic institutions is the Google Research Awards program, aimed at identifying and supporting world-class, full-time faculty pursuing research in areas of mutual interest.

Our University Relations team and core area committees just completed the latest round of research awards, and we're excited to announce them today. We had a record number of submissions, resulting in 76 awards across 17 different areas. Over $4 million was awarded — the most we have ever funded in a round.

The areas that received the highest level of funding for this round were systems and infrastructure, machine learning, multimedia, human computer interaction, and security. These five areas represent important areas of collaboration with university researchers. We're also excited to be developing more connections internationally. In this round, over 20 percent of the funding was awarded to universities outside the U.S.

Some exciting examples from this round of awards:

Ondrej Chum, Czech Technical University, Large Scale Visual Link Discovery. This project addresses automatic discovery of visual links between image parts in huge image collections. Visual links associate parts of images that share even a relatively small, but distinctive, visual information.

Bernd Gartner, ETH Zurich, Linear Time Kernel Methods and Matrix Factorizations. This project aims to derive faster approximation algorithms for kernel methods as well as matrix approximation problems and leverage these two promising paradigms for better performance on large scale data.

Dawson Engler, Stanford University, High Coverage, Deep Checking of Linux Device Drivers using KLEE + Under-constrained Execution Symbolic execution. This project extends the recently built KLEE, a tool that automatically generates test cases that execute most statements in real programs, so that it allows automatic, deep checking of Linux device drivers.

Jeffrey G. Gray, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Improving the Education and Career Opportunities of the Physically Disabled through Speech-Aware Development Environments. This project will investigate the science and engineering of tool construction to allow those with restricted limb mobility to access integrated development environments (IDEs), which will support programming by voice.

Xiaohui (Helen) Gu, North Carolina State University, Predictive Elastic Load Management for Cloud Computing Infrastructures. This project proposes to use fine-grained resource signatures with signal processing techniques to improve resource utilization by reducing the number of physical hosts required to run all applications.

Jason Hong and John Zimmerman, Carnegie Mellon University, Context-Aware Mobile Mash-ups. This project seeks to build tools for non-programmers to create location and context-aware mashups of data for mobile devices that can present time- and place-approriate information.

S V N Vishwanathan, Purdue University, Training Binary Classifiers using the Quantum Adiabatic Algorithm. The goal of this project is to harness the power of quantum algorithms in machine learning. The advantage of the new quantum methods will materialize even more once new adiabatic quantum processors become available.

Emmett Witchel and Vitaly Shmatikov, University of Texas at Austin, Private and Secure MapReduce. This project proposes to build a practical system for large-scale distributed computation that provides rigorous privacy and security guarantees to the individual data owners whose information has been used in the computation.

Click here to see a full list of this round’s award recipients. More information on our research award program can be found on our website.
URL: http://googleresearch.blogspot.com/2009/12/announcing-our-q4-research-awards.html

[G] The Royal Botanic Gardens' discoveries now in Google Earth

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Google LatLong: The Royal Botanic Gardens' discoveries now in Google Earth


At the UK's Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Gardens, you'll find more than 250 plant and fungi species discovered by their botanists, including: giant rainforest trees, gorgeous rare orchids, spectacular palms, minute fungi, wild coffee species, and even an ancient aquatic plant. To celebrate the botanical organisation’s 250th year, they’re making information about these new species available for nature-lovers and curious web explorers via Google Maps and Google Earth. Kew has mapped all 250 of the newly discovered species on this special Google Earth layer:www.kew.org/science/new-discoveries/250-species.kml.

The new species come from a wide-range of fascinating locations, including botanical frontiers such as Ecuador, Madagascar, the Amazon, Cameroon, New Guinea, Mozambique, Amazon, and the heart of Borneo. Nearly a third are believed to be in danger of extinction.

Following in the footsteps of their famous botanical predecessors such as Sir Joseph Banks, Sir Joseph Hooker, and Charles Darwin, taxonomic botanists at the Royal Botanic Gardens continue to explore and study the world’s plant and fungal diversity, making astonishing discoveries every year. Their work involves a combination of fieldwork in remote and exotic parts of the world, and research in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew’s Herbarium, a vast scientific collection of over seven million dried plants specimens, perhaps the largest of its kind in the world. This work has never been more relevant and pressing than in the current era of global climate change and unprecedented loss of biodiversity – especially as we count down to the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity in 2010.


We spoke to the team at Kew (whose stunning grounds you can also explore on Street View by the way!), and they told us that there is so much of the plant world yet to be discovered and documented – and that by using Google Earth they can highlight this to the public. Steve Bachman, a Plant Conservation Analyst, says he believes Google Earth and Google Maps have revolutionised the way Kew presents this important plant and conservation data to decision makers, scientists and the general public. After all, in order to promote conservation, you need to know what's out there and where it's found.


We’re thrilled to see the folks at Kew sharing their intricate and important work of plant and species identification via our mapping technology and look forward to hearing about more new discoveries we're sure they'll be making in the coming year!


Posted by Laura Scott, Google London
URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2009/12/royal-botanic-gardens-discoveries-now.html

[G] Webinars - out with the old, in with the new

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Inside AdSense: Webinars - out with the old, in with the new

This year, the AdSense team has brought you a series of live webinars covering a range of topics, and we'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who attended. We hope that you're already profiting from implementing the tips featured in our webinars.

Your feedback to date has been very helpful, and we'll spend the coming weeks developing brand new, interesting content for 2010. If you haven't already done so, we invite you to share with us the topics you'd like to see covered in future webinars.

We've received great reviews from publishers who've attended our webinars, so if you haven't seen one as yet, you can view the recordings of these events whenever it's convenient for you.

Wishing you a happy holiday season and a healthy new year.

Posted by Siobhan McCormack - AdSense Optimisation Team
URL: http://adsense.blogspot.com/2009/12/webinars-out-with-old-in-with-new.html

[G] Unofficial tech support returns home for the holidays

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Official Google Blog: Unofficial tech support returns home for the holidays

Whenever I go home to visit my parents, I always assume a handful of new roles — I become the after-dinner dishwasher, the family chauffeur, and appropriately, my parents' personal tech support. As I go home for the holidays this week, I'll likely be asked to help fix the webcam that "used to be there" or make the font size "so I can see it again." I'll also perform a few regular maintenance tasks that my parents don't even know to ask about, such as running a virus scan, uninstalling unused applications and upgrading their software to the latest versions.

I know this phenomenon isn't unique to just my family. If you're unofficial tech support for family this holiday season like I am, one of the things you'll want to consider is checking that your family is using the latest version of their browser. Why? For me, an up-to-date browser makes a huge difference: not only so that my parents can get to what they need when they're on the web, quickly and easily — whether they're writing email, viewing photo albums online, reading cross-stitching blogs or checking the weather in Chicago — but also so that I can rest assured that they'll be browsing the web more safely and securely with the latest version of the browser with security updates. (More selfishly, a new or up-to-date browser would also make their computer notably faster when I'm visiting home and using their machine!)

Most browsers have released major updates over the past year, and to ensure your family is getting the most speed and security out of their web experience, you can help your family upgrade to the latest version of Google Chrome, Firefox 3.5, Opera 10, Safari 4, or Internet Explorer 8 — just to name a few modern browsers. Moreover, teaching your family what a web browser is and how to update it can help your family keep themselves up-to-date throughout the year. The browser is perhaps the most important piece of software on our computers, as we depend on it to get to the websites and web applications we use every day.

You can also check out Google Pack, a collection of free Google and third-party software that's ready to use in just a few clicks. From anti-virus software to keep a computer more secure and voice applications like Skype to help you keep in touch once you leave, to Google applications like Google Earth (where you can track Santa over Christmas), Google Pack's applications help your family get the most out of their computer.

Happy holidays, one and all — and happy trails on the web!

Posted by Jeffrey Chang, Associate Product Manager, Google Chrome Team
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/12/unofficial-tech-support-returns-home.html

[G] More to see in 3D

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Google LatLong: More to see in 3D


A few weeks ago we released new 3D models with more detailed facades for 5 California cities. Even though we’re based in California, we know there are a lot of beautiful cities with amazing architecture elsewhere around the country, so we’re adding 4 new cities scattered from coast to coast. Now you can fly through Portland, Austin, Chicago, and Philadelphia and see vivid, detailed 3D models throughout the cities.

While the list is quickly growing, some of our favorite spots are Portland’s Pearl District, South Street in Philadelphia, Austin’s 6th Street, and the restaurants along Rush Street in Chicago:

Portland, OR

Austin, TX

Chicago, IL

Philadelphia, PA

For the full effect, you should explore these cities for yourself in Google Earth. As you browse through these cities you’ll also see a number of great buildings creating by users using tools like Sketch-up and Building Maker. Here’s a video preview of the interactive experience:

Posted by Manish Patel, 3D Modeling Team
URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2009/12/more-to-see-in-3d.html

Monday, December 21, 2009

[G] Going for gold with Google Earth

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Google LatLong: Going for gold with Google Earth


The 2010 Winter Games are just around the corner, and at Google, we're getting pretty excited.

Last week we shared some maps of local experts' favorite locations in and around Vancouver with the help from our Google Canada team. Today we've introduced photorealistic 3D building models for all nine venues of the Winter Games. Producing these models is a multi-step process involving both aerial and ground-based imagery.

Before we could begin we needed to obtain high quality aerial imagery for the Vancouver region. The new aerial imagery, now available in Google Earth and Google Maps, is pretty amazing, and provides a close-up look at this beautiful region. We then obtained ground-based photos of all nine venues. The combined ground-based images and aerial imagery are then used to construct highly detailed photorealistic 3D building models for the venues. All the models were developed by hand using SketchUp. As you'll see, we modeled everything from the gondolas to the spectator bleachers. We even included 3D trees to add a bit more realism. We'll be making a few more improvements prior to the commencement of the Games, but you can begin touring this beautiful area of the world via Google Earth today.

My personal favorites are the Whistler and Cypress Mountain ski areas. Whistler will host the alpine skiing events, and the Whistler Sliding Centre will host bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton events. Cypress will host all of the freestyle skiing and snowboarding competitions: moguls, aerials, ski cross, half-pipe, snowboard cross and parallel giant slalom.



Whistler Creekside, Vancouver, BC

The best part? You can leave the winter parka in the closet, throw a log on the fire, and visit the games from the comfort of your home. I'll be watching closely, and rooting for Team USA!

Posted by Bruce Polderman, Product Manager
URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2009/12/going-for-gold-with-google-earth.html

[G] Make Way for youtu.be Links

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YouTube Blog: Make Way for youtu.be Links

It's all the rage:
link shorteners to ensure that those useful URLs you're sharing don't
take up too much precious character count while also giving you an
inkling of what you're about to click on. Well, we've just launched
youtu.be as a shortener for YouTube video links -- and nothing but
YouTube links -- so you can rest assured that when you see a link with
this URL, you are indeed about to click on a YouTube video. (Also,
because the link contains the ID of the video you're going to see,
developers can do interesting things like show you thumbnails, embed
the video directly, or track how a video is spreading in real-time.)




To see this feature in action, use AutoShare
to link up your YouTube account to social networks like Twitter and
Google Reader. Then, whenever you favorite a video on YouTube, for
example, that action will get syndicated out to your network, who will
see this shortened edition of the video's URL.




To use youtu.be
manually, simply take a URL like
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdeioVndUhs and replace the
"http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=" with "http://youtu.be/" to get:
http://youtu.be/FdeioVndUhs Plug that shorter URL into a browser, and you'll see it redirects to that video.



Vijay Karunamurthy, Engineering Manager, recently watched "Suzy Snowflake" again, thanks to Diablo Cody.


URL: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/youtube/PKJx/~3/he2LxEXLiZc/make-way-for-youtube-links.html

[G] The meaning of open

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Official Google Blog: The meaning of open

Last week I sent an email to Googlers about the meaning of "open" as it relates to the Internet, Google, and our users. In the spirit of openness, I thought it would be appropriate to share these thoughts with those outside of Google as well.

At Google we believe that open systems win. They lead to more innovation, value, and freedom of choice for consumers, and a vibrant, profitable, and competitive ecosystem for businesses. Many companies will claim roughly the same thing since they know that declaring themselves to be open is both good for their brand and completely without risk. After all, in our industry there is no clear definition of what open really means. It is a Rashomon-like term: highly subjective and vitally important.

The topic of open seems to be coming up a lot lately at Google. I've been in meetings where we're discussing a product and someone says something to the effect that we should be more open. Then a debate ensues which reveals that even though most everyone in the room believes in open we don't necessarily agree on what it means in practice.

This is happening often enough for me to conclude that we need to lay out our definition of open in clear terms that we can all understand and support. What follows is that definition based on my experiences at Google and the input of several colleagues. We run the company and make our product decisions based on these principles, so I encourage you to carefully read, review, and debate them. Then own them and try to incorporate them into your work. This is a complex subject and if there is debate (and I'm sure there will be) it should be in the open! Please feel free to comment.

There are two components to our definition of open: open technology and open information. Open technology includes open source, meaning we release and actively support code that helps grow the Internet, and open standards, meaning we adhere to accepted standards and, if none exist, work to create standards that improve the entire Internet (and not just benefit Google). Open information means that when we have information about users we use it to provide something that is valuable to them, we are transparent about what information we have about them, and we give them ultimate control over their information. These are the things we should be doing. In many cases we aren't there, but I hope that with this note we can start working to close the gap between reality and aspiration.

If we can embody a consistent commitment to open — which I believe we can — then we have a big opportunity to lead by example and encourage other companies and industries to adopt the same commitment. If they do, the world will be a better place.

Open systems win
To understand our position in more detail, it helps to start with the assertion that open systems win. This is counter-intuitive to the traditionally trained MBA who is taught to generate a sustainable competitive advantage by creating a closed system, making it popular, then milking it through the product life cycle. The conventional wisdom goes that companies should lock in customers to lock out competitors. There are different tactical approaches — razor companies make the razor cheap and the blades expensive, while the old IBM made the mainframes expensive and the software ... expensive too. Either way, a well-managed closed system can deliver plenty of profits. They can also deliver well-designed products in the short run — the iPod and iPhone being the obvious examples — but eventually innovation in a closed system tends towards being incremental at best (is a four blade razor really that much better than a three blade one?) because the whole point is to preserve the status quo. Complacency is the hallmark of any closed system. If you don't have to work that hard to keep your customers, you won't.

Open systems are just the opposite. They are competitive and far more dynamic. In an open system, a competitive advantage doesn't derive from locking in customers, but rather from understanding the fast-moving system better than anyone else and using that knowledge to generate better, more innovative products. The successful company in an open system is both a fast innovator and a thought leader; the brand value of thought leadership attracts customers and then fast innovation keeps them. This isn't easy — far from it — but fast companies have nothing to fear, and when they are successful they can generate great shareholder value.

Open systems have the potential to spawn industries. They harness the intellect of the general population and spur businesses to compete, innovate, and win based on the merits of their products and not just the brilliance of their business tactics. The race to map the human genome is one example.

In the book Wikinomics, Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams explain how in the mid-1990s private firms were discovering and patenting large amounts of DNA sequence data and then assuming control over who could access that information and at what price. Having so much of the genome under private ownership raised costs and made drug discovery far less efficient. Then, in 1995, Merck Pharmaceuticals and the Gene Sequencing Center at Washington University changed the game by creating a new, open initiative called the Merck Gene Index. Within three years they had published over 800,000 gene sequences into the public domain, and soon other collaborative projects followed suit. This in an industry where early stage R&D was traditionally pursued individually in closed labs, so Merck's open approach not only changed the culture of the entire field but also accelerated the pace of biomedical research and drug development. It gave researchers everywhere unrestricted access to an open resource of genetic information.

Another way to look at the difference between open and closed systems is that open systems allow innovation at all levels — from the operating system to the application layer — not just at the top. This means that one company doesn't have to depend on another's benevolence to ship a product. If the GNU C compiler that I'm using has a bug, I can fix it since the compiler is open source. I don't have to file a bug report and hope for a timely response.

So if you are trying to grow an entire industry as broadly as possible, open systems trump closed. And that is exactly what we are trying to do with the Internet. Our commitment to open systems is not altruistic. Rather it's good business, since an open Internet creates a steady stream of innovations that attracts users and usage and grows the entire industry. Hal Varian has an equation in his book Information Rules that applies here:

Reward = (Total value added to the industry) * (Our share of industry value)

All other things being equal, a 10 percent increase in share or a 10 percent increase in industry value should lead to the same outcome. But in our industry a 10 percent increase in industry value will yield a much bigger reward because it will stimulate economies of scale across the entire industry, increasing productivity and reducing costs for all competitors. As long as we contribute a steady stream of great products we will prosper along with the entire ecosystem. We may get a smaller piece, but it will come from a bigger pie.

In other words, Google's future depends on the Internet staying an open system, and our advocacy of open will grow the web for everyone - including Google.

Open Technology
The definition of open starts with the technologies upon which the Internet was founded: open standards and open source software.

Open Standards
Networks have always depended on standards to flourish. When railroad tracks were first being laid across the U.S. in the early 19th century, there were seven different standards for track width. The network didn't flourish and expand west until the different railway companies agreed upon a standard width of 4' 8.5". (In this case the standards war was an actual war: Southern railroads were forced to convert over 11,000 miles of track to the new standard after the Confederacy lost to the Union in the Civil War.)

So there was some precedent in 1974 when Vint Cerf and his colleagues proposed using an open standard (which became TCP/IP) to connect the several computer networks that had emerged around the U.S. They didn't know exactly how many networks were out there so the "Internet" — a term Vint coined — had to be open. Any network could connect using TCP/IP, and now, as a result of that decision, there are about 681 million hosts on the Internet.

Today, we base our developer products on open standards because interoperability is a critical element of user choice. What does this mean for Google Product Managers and Engineers? Simple: whenever possible, use existing open standards. If you are venturing into an area where open standards don't exist, create them. If existing standards aren't as good as they should be, work to improve them and make those improvements as simple and well documented as you can. Our top priorities should always be users and the industry at large and not just the good of Google, and you should work with standards committees to make our changes part of the accepted specification.

We have a good history of doing this. In the formative years of the Google Data Protocol (our standard API protocol, which is based on XML/Atom), we worked as part of the IETF Atom Protocol Working Group to shape the Atom specification. There's also our recent work with the W3C to create a standard geolocation API that will make it easy for developers to build browser-based, location-sensitive applications. This standard helps everyone, not just us, and will lead to users having access to many more compelling apps from thousands of developers.

Open Source
Most of those apps will be built on open source software, a phenomenon responsible for the web's explosive growth in the past 15 years. There is a historic precedent here: while the term "open source" was coined in the late 1990s, the concept of sharing valuable information to catalyze an industry existed long before the Internet. In the early 1900s, the U.S. automobile industry instituted a cross-licensing agreement whereby patents were shared openly and freely amongst manufacturers. Prior to this agreement, the owners of the patent for the two-cycle gasoline engine had effectively bottled up the industry.

Today's open source goes far beyond the "patent pooling" of the early auto manufacturers, and has led to the development of the sophisticated software components — Linux, Apache, SSH, and others — upon which Google is built. In fact, we use tens of millions of lines of open source code to run our products. We also give back: we are the largest open source contributor in the world, contributing over 800 projects that total over 20 million lines of code to open source, with four projects (Chrome, Android, Chrome OS, and Google Web Toolkit) of over a million lines of code each. We have teams that work to support Mozilla and Apache, and an open source project hosting service (code.google.com/hosting) that hosts over 250,000 projects. These activities not only ensure that others can help us build the best products, they also mean that others can use our software as a base for their own products if we fail to innovate adequately.

When we open source our code we use standard, open Apache 2.0 licensing, which means we don't control the code. Others can take our open source code, modify it, close it up and ship it as their own. Android is a classic example of this, as several OEMs have already taken the code and done great things with it. There are risks to this approach, however, as the software can fragment into different branches which don't work well together (remember how Unix for workstations devolved into various flavors — Apollo, Sun, HP, etc.). This is something we are working hard to avoid with Android.

While we are committed to opening the code for our developer tools, not all Google products are open source. Our goal is to keep the Internet open, which promotes choice and competition and keeps users and developers from getting locked in. In many cases, most notably our search and ads products, opening up the code would not contribute to these goals and would actually hurt users. The search and advertising markets are already highly competitive with very low switching costs, so users and advertisers already have plenty of choice and are not locked in. Not to mention the fact that opening up these systems would allow people to "game" our algorithms to manipulate search and ads quality rankings, reducing our quality for everyone.

So as you are building your product or adding new features, stop and ask yourself: Would open sourcing this code promote the open Internet? Would it spur greater user, advertiser, and partner choice? Would it lead to greater competition and innovation? If so, then you should make it open source. And when you do, do it right; don't just push it over the wall into the public realm and forget about it. Make sure you have the resources to pay attention to the code and foster developer engagement. Google Web Toolkit, where we have developed in the open and used a public bug tracker and source control system, is a good example of this.

Open Information
The foundation of open standards and open source has led to a web where massive amounts of personal information — photos, contacts, updates — are regularly uploaded. The scale of information being shared, and the fact that it can be saved forever, creates a question that was hardly a consideration a few years ago: How do we treat this information?

Historically, new information technologies have often enabled new forms of commerce. For example, when traders in the Mediterranean region circa 3000 BC invented seals (called bullae) to ensure that their shipments reached their destinations tamper-free, they transformed commerce from local to long distance. Similar transformations were spurred by the advent of the written word, and more recently, computers. At every step of the way, the transaction, a consensual agreement where each party gets something of value, was powered by a new type of information that allowed a contract to be enforced.

On the web, the new form of commerce is the exchange of personal information for something of value. This is a transaction that millions of us participate in every day, and it has potentially great benefits. An auto insurer could monitor a customer's driving habits in real-time and give a discount for good driving — or charge a premium for speeding — powered by information (GPS tracking) that wasn't available only a few years ago. This is a fairly simple transaction, but we will encounter far more sensitive scenarios.

Let's say your child has an allergy to certain medicines. Would you allow her medical data to be accessible by a smart wireless syringe which could prevent an EMT or nurse from accidentally giving her that medicine? I would, but you might decide the metal bracelet around her wrist is sufficient. And that's the point — people can and will reach different decisions, and when it comes to their personal information we need to treat all of those decisions with equal respect.

So while having more personal information online can be quite beneficial to everyone, its uses should be guided by principles that are responsible, scalable, and flexible enough to grow and change with our industry. And unlike open technology, where our objective is to grow the Internet ecosystem, our approach to open information is to build trust with the individuals who engage within that ecosystem (users, partners, and customers). Trust is the most important currency online, so to build it we adhere to three principles of open information: value, transparency, and control.

Value
First and foremost, we need to make products that are valuable to users. In many cases, we can make our products even better if we know more information about the user, but privacy concerns can arise if people don't understand what value they are getting in return for their information. Explain that value to them, however, and they will often agree to the transaction. For example, millions of people let credit card companies retain information on the purchases they make with their card in exchange for the convenience of not carrying around cash.

We did this well when we launched Interest-Based Advertising in March. IBA makes ads more relevant and more useful. That is the extra value we create based on the information we gather. It also includes a user preferences manager that clearly explains what users are getting in exchange for their information and lets them opt out or adjust their settings. The vast majority of people who visit the preferences manager choose to adjust their settings rather than opt out because they realize the value of receiving ads customized to their interests.

This should be our default approach: tell people, in obvious, plain language, what we know about them and why it's valuable to them that we know it. Think that your product's value is so obvious that it doesn't need explaining? There's a good chance you're wrong.

Transparency
Next, we need to make it easy for users to find out what information we gather and store about them across all of our products. We recently took a big step in this direction with the launch of the Google Dashboard, which is a single place where users can see what personal data is held by each Google product (covering more than 20 products including Gmail, YouTube, and Search) and control their personal settings. We are, to the best of our knowledge, the first Internet company to offer a service like this and we hope it will become the standard. Another good example is our Privacy Policy, which is written for humans and not just lawyers.

We can go even farther than this though. If you manage a consumer product where you collect information from your users, your product should be part of the Dashboard. If you're already there, you're not done. With every new feature or version, ask yourself if you have any additional information (maybe even information that is publicly available about users on other sites) that you can add to the Dashboard.

Think about how you can increase transparency within your product as well. When you download an Android app, for example, the device tells you what information the app will be able to access about you and your phone, and then you get to decide whether or not to proceed. You don't have to dig deep to figure out what information you are divulging - it tells you up front and lets you decide what to do. Is your product like that? How can you increase users' engagement with your product through increasing transparency?

Control
Finally, we must always give control to the user. If we have information about a user, as with IBA, it should be easy for the user to delete that information and opt-out. If they use our products and store content with us, it's their content, not ours. They should be able to export it or delete it at any time, at no cost, and as easily as possible. Gmail is a great example of this since we offer free forwarding to any address. The ability to switch is critical, so instead of building walls around your product, build bridges. Give users real options.

If there are existing standards for handling user data, then we should adhere to them. If a standard doesn't exist, we should work to create an open one that benefits the entire web, even if a closed standard appears to be better for us (remember — it's not!). In the meantime we need to do whatever we can to make leaving Google as easy as possible. Google is not the Hotel California — you can check out any time you like and you CAN, in fact, leave!

As Eric said in his 2009 strategy memo, "we don't trap users, we make it easy for them to move to our competitors." This policy is sort of like the emergency exits on an airplane — an analogy that our pilot CEO would appreciate. You hope to never use them, but you're glad they're there and would be furious if they weren't.

That's why we have a team — the Data Liberation Front (dataliberation.org) — whose job it is to make "checking out" easy. Recent examples of their work include Blogger (people who choose to leave Blogger for another service can easily take their content with them) and Docs (users can now collect all their documents, presos, and spreadsheets in a zip file and download it). Build your products so that the Data Liberation team can work their magic. One way you can do this is by having a good public API that exposes all your users' data. Don't wait for v2 or v3, discuss this early in your product planning meetings and make it a feature of your product from the start.

When reporters at the Guardian, a leading UK newspaper, reviewed the work of the Data Liberation team, they proclaimed it to be "counter-intuitive" for those "accustomed to the lock-in mentality of previous commercial battles." They are right, it is counterintuitive to people who are stuck in the old MBA way of thinking, but if we do our jobs then soon it won't be. Our goal is to make open the default. People will gravitate towards it, then they will expect and demand it and be furious when they don't get it. When open is intuitive, then we have succeeded.

When bigger is better
Closed systems are well-defined and profitable, but only for those who control them. Open systems are chaotic and profitable, but only for those who understand them well and move faster than everyone else. Closed systems grow quickly while open systems evolve more slowly, so placing your bets on open requires the optimism, will, and means to think long term. Fortunately, at Google we have all three of these.

Because of our reach, technical know-how, and lust for big projects, we can take on big challenges that require large investments and lack an obvious, near-term pay-off. We can photograph the world's streets so that you can explore the neighborhood around an apartment you are considering renting from a thousand miles away. We can scan millions of books and make them widely accessible (while respecting the rights of publishers and authors). We can create an email system that gives away a gigabyte of storage (now over 7 gigs) at a time when all other services allow only a small fraction of that amount. We can instantly translate web pages from any of 51 languages. We can process search data to help public health agencies detect flu outbreaks much earlier. We can build a faster browser (Chrome), a better mobile operating system (Android), and an entirely new communications platform (Wave), and then open them up for the world to build upon, customize, and improve.

We can do these things because they are information problems and we have the computer scientists, technology, and computational power to solve them. When we do, we make numerous platforms - video, maps, mobile, PCs, voice, enterprise - better, more competitive, and more innovative. We are often attacked for being too big, but sometimes being bigger allows us to take on the impossible.

All of this is useless, however, if we fail when it comes to being open. So we need to constantly push ourselves. Are we contributing to open standards that better the industry? What's stopping us from open sourcing our code? Are we giving our users value, transparency, and control? Open up as much as you can as often as you can, and if anyone questions whether this is a good approach, explain to them why it's not just a good approach, but the best approach. It is an approach that will transform business and commerce in this still young century, and when we are successful we will effectively re-write the MBA curriculum for the next several decades!

An open Internet transforms lives globally. It has the potential to deliver the world's information to the palm of every person and to give everyone the power of freedom of expression. These predictions were in an email I sent you earlier this year (later posted as a blog post) that described my vision for the future of the Internet. But now I'm talking about action, not vision. There are forces aligned against the open Internet — governments who control access, companies who fight in their own self-interests to preserve the status quo. They are powerful, and if they succeed we will find ourselves inhabiting an Internet of fragmentation, stagnation, higher prices, and less competition.

Our skills and our culture give us the opportunity and responsibility to prevent this from happening. We believe in the power of technology to deliver information. We believe in the power of information to do good. We believe that open is the only way for this to have the broadest impact for the most people. We are technology optimists who trust that the chaos of open benefits everyone. We will fight to promote it every chance we get.

Open will win. It will win on the Internet and will then cascade across many walks of life: The future of government is transparency. The future of commerce is information symmetry. The future of culture is freedom. The future of science and medicine is collaboration. The future of entertainment is participation. Each of these futures depends on an open Internet.

As Google product managers, you are building something that will outlast all of us, and none of us can imagine all the ways Google will grow and touch people's lives. In that way, we are like our colleague Vint Cerf, who didn't know exactly how many networks would want to be part of this "Internet" so he set the default to open. Vint certainly got it right. I believe we will too.

Posted by Jonathan Rosenberg, Senior Vice President, Product Management
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/12/meaning-of-open.html