Friday, December 14, 2012

Zeitgeist 2012: What piqued your curiosity this year?

Zeitgeist 2012: What piqued your curiosity this year?: As 2012 comes to a close, it's time for our 12th annual Year-End Zeitgeist—an in-depth look at the "spirit of the times" as seen through the billions of searches on Google over the past year.

On our 2012 Zeitgeist website, you can explore the most popular and hottest trending search terms from around the world. This year’s site is our most global to date, with a total of 838 lists from 55 countries. We’ve also added a number of new features, including an interactive map that shows where and when some of the hottest terms spiked around the world, and a Google Zeitgeist Android app coming out later today (with an iOS version coming soon too).

For a round-the-globe tour through 2012, take a look at our video:

So what kinds of things were top of mind this year? While there are perennial themes—“what is love?” topped the list in 10 countries—it’s the unusual and surprising that caught our attention in 2012.

Global superstar Whitney Houston topped many countries’ lists as well as three of our overall trending lists—her unexpected death surprising fans around the world. From Korea, YouTube sensation PSY’s “Gangnam Style” signature dance took the world by storm, landing him the #1 spot in many countries and making his song the second most trending query of 2012. (PSY’s video became the #1 most watched in YouTube history—stay tuned for YouTube’s Rewind for more.)

Then there was the superhuman. Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner’s epic free fall jump made him the #6 globally trending person of the year, while the 2012 Olympics and its various athletes made it into almost every country’s top trends. And NBA player Jeremy Lin also rose on the charts this year, making him the #1 trending athlete globally.

People researched a breadth of other topics, too. Web users took a serious interest in threats to the open Internet, with proposals like SOPA and ACTA both finding their way to the top of many countries’ lists. The U.S. elections brought attention to the candidates and issues, not least the presidential campaigns’ most notorious political gaffes. And while it might not be surprising to see that tragic natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy ranked highly (#3 on the global trending list), it is reassuring to find searches like [donate to Sandy] spiking as well.

We hope you enjoy exploring what people around the world were searching for in 2012. It’s quite a snapshot of what makes us human: a blend of guilty pleasures and higher pursuits.

Posted by Amit Singhal, SVP & Google Fellow

Unleashing creativity in Google’s CSI:Lab

Unleashing creativity in Google’s CSI:Lab: This is the first in a series of posts profiling Googlers who facilitate classes as part of our “Googlers-to-Googlers” program (known internally as “g2g”). The g2g community consists of a group of Googlers who are passionate about teaching, sharing and learning from one another. Regardless of role, level or location, g2g's community-based approach makes it possible for all Googlers to take advantage of a variety of learning opportunities. Our philosophy is: the best teacher you've ever had could be the one in the cube next to you. - Ed

For most people, the term “CSI” evokes images of crime scene investigators solving murder mysteries, like on the popular TV series. But I hadn’t heard of the TV show when I created the CSI:Lab at Google. This program on Creative Skills for Innovation is taught through our “Googlers-to-Googlers” (g2g) program—where Googlers teach other Googlers about topics that interest them. We don’t lift fingerprints or take down criminals, but like the show, CSI:Lab is all about reaching an end goal through brainstorming, getting your hands dirty and an “ensemble” performance.

Here I am welcoming a CSI:Lab

Over the course of my travels a few years ago, I had the opportunity to observe a variety of diverse places and cultures, from Shanghai to Capetown. Experiencing dissimilar cultures allowed me to see how people from different walks of life innovate to survive and thrive, and deepened my interest in the topic of innovation. One of the reasons I was drawn to Google was its unique innovation culture. Soon after arriving here in February 2010, I began to delineate what was tangible about that aspect of the Google culture and was determined to figure out how I could immerse both myself and others in it more. This led me to think about how I could use the knowledge I gathered on innovation from my travels to teach those with different occupations and mindsets—from a salesperson to a project manager to an engineer—to think more about how to be innovative and to ignite change in a company.

In my 20 percent time, I decided to develop a class with a “lab” component to show Googlers how to “experience innovation.” I wanted to get a diverse group of people together in one room to solve challenging problems by learning from each other’s experiences, and by developing their own inner strengths. The goal was to enable Googlers to experience an approach to innovation where one learns by doing, rather than by listening.

CSI:Lab is user-centered and prototype driven. In each class, small groups are formed to answer a broad challenge that entices folks to think big—such as, “How would you change the commuting to work experience?” Participants are asked to interview potential “users” of their solutions to generate insights. After the surveys, all the ideas are posted on a white board. For example, in this case individual hi-tech jet packs or “Marty McFly” skateboards might reduce commute time and aid the environment. Ultimately, one idea is chosen and the group then develops a physical prototype (think Play-Doh and pipe cleaners) of their solution, to learn and prove how and why it is the best. Each class is intentionally made up of groups of Googlers from varying parts of the company—for example, engineering, global business, or project management—to encourage the groups to collaborate and learn from each other’s experience.

CSI:Lab brainstorm session. The prompt: Re-imagine advertising.

Googlers developing their solution’s prototype to the challenge: 
What is the learning space of the future?

Since April 2010, I’ve been humbled to run the Lab in 37 Google offices worldwide, and about 9,000 Googlers have participated. Today, we have more than 50 Googlers who act as ambassadors for the Lab, designing and facilitating more Labs as part of the g2g program. From New York to Tokyo to Sao Paulo, the different people and cultures of each lab offer a new perspective. And CSI:Lab inspires Googlers long after the sessions are over. One Googler told me that after the Lab, he used his experience to develop a prototype for a solution to one of his team’s issues. He described how good it felt to take a risk to reach a solution, and ultimately he convinced a team of other Googlers to work with him to refine and implement his idea. Ultimately, seeing these ideas absorbed by participants and put to use within the company is what CSI:Lab is all about.

Take a peek at five tips to help you embrace the CSI:Lab spirit and add more creativity and innovation to your everyday life—whether it be at home or at the office!

  1. Know and own what inspires you. Understand where your inspiration comes from and do it 10x more than you do now. For example, if your inspiration comes from museums, then go to museums 10x more often; if your inspiration comes from people, talk to 10 new people each week.
  2. Think like a child. Be open and question everything around you. Try not to pre-judge thoughts or ideas; develop them.
  3. Dive into something new. Involve yourself in areas at work where you’re unfamiliar with the content and want to learn more. People are generally happy to share their knowledge and you can often teach them something too just by bringing a fresh perspective to their work.
  4. Play with fun and unusual materials when developing an idea. We all constantly use our computers and paper and pen, so think outside the box to get your mind flowing. Want to “prototype” a solution you’ve thought of? Grab some pipe cleaners, construction paper, LEGO figures, name it! See how the materials inspire you.
  5. Invest in your physical space. Having a supportive environment can make a big difference, so learn how what types of space inspire creativity. To create a more open, playful environment, try a flexible workplace with no offices. Or, help ideas flow more freely by making lots of whiteboard space easily accessible. For example, at Google’s Mountain View campus, we’ve created our own innovation space, called “The Garage” (a nod to the iconic Silicon Valley workspace). “The Garage” is big enough for 170 Googlers to use the area to create, collaborate and experiment.
A snapshot of the Garage

Posted by Frederik G. Pferdt, Global Program Manager for Innovation & Creativity

Google Maps is now available for iPhone

Google Maps is now available for iPhone: People around the world have been asking for Google Maps on iPhone. Starting today, we’re pleased to announce that Google Maps is here—rolling out across the world in the Apple App Store. It’s designed from the ground up to combine the comprehensiveness and accuracy of Google Maps with an interface that makes finding what you’re looking for faster and easier.

The app shows more map on screen and turns mobile mapping into one intuitive experience. It’s a sharper looking, vector-based map that loads quickly and provides smooth tilting and rotating of 2D and 3D views. The search box at the top is a good place to start—perhaps by entering the name of a new and interesting restaurant. An expandable info sheet at the bottom shows the address, opening hours, ratings and reviews, images, directions and other information.

At the heart of this app is our constantly improving map of the world that includes detailed information for more than 80 million businesses and points of interest. Preview where you want to go with Street View and see inside places with Business Photos to decide on a table or see if it’s better at the bar. To get you there, you’ve got voice-guided, turn-by-turn navigation, live traffic conditions to avoid the jams and if you want to use public transportation, find information for more than one million public transit stops.

The world around us is constantly changing and, thanks to feedback from you, we make tens of thousands of daily updates to keep Google Maps accurate and comprehensive. Here’s a helpful hint for the new app: if you see something off, simply shake your phone to send us feedback.

To complete the Google Maps ecosystem, we’re also releasing the Google Maps SDK for iOS, and a simple URL scheme to help developers use Google Maps when building their beautiful and innovative apps.

The new Google Maps app is available for the iPhone and iPod Touch (4th gen) iOS 5.1 and higher, in more than 40 countries and 29 languages, including Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish. Please note some of the features mentioned in this post aren’t available in all countries.

Visit the App Store today and download the new Google Maps app. We believe this delightful new experience is a great starting point—and we’ll continue to improve Google Maps for you, every day.

Posted by Daniel Graf, Director, Google Maps for Mobile

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The evolution of This Exquisite Forest

The evolution of This Exquisite Forest: A few months ago we released This Exquisite Forest, a Chrome Experiment that lets you create collaborative animations using an online drawing tool. Since then, thousands of people from all over the world have contributed to the project, creating unique animations like Looking Up / Looking Down, Wine after Coffee and Animated Typography. For any of these animations, you can click the button in the lower right to add to the story and branch it in a new direction.

Today, we’d like to share The Endless Theater, a new way to wander the forest by viewing a continuous stream of different animations. In addition, now you can embed animations directly into your site or blog, so it’s even easier to share your work with the world. Just go into the lightbox view and click “Embed.”

A project of this scale and diversity is really only possible on the web, where people can view and contribute from all over the world using only a browser. Thank you all for making the forest so full of life. Please continue to explore, find your favorite animations, and add to the story.

Posted by Aaron Koblin, Creative Lab

(Cross-posted from the Chrome blog)

Monday, December 03, 2012

France's Sanofi Pasteur to release Dengue fever vaccine -

France's Sanofi Pasteur to release Dengue fever vaccine -

France's Sanofi Pasteur to release Dengue fever vaccine
Lyon - French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur announced this week that it would soon be bringing to the market a vaccine to counter Dengue fever, a disease transmitted by mosquitoes and which is estimated to threaten almost half the world's ...

Keep the Internet free and open

Keep the Internet free and open: Starting in 1973, when my colleagues and I proposed the technology behind the Internet, we advocated for an open standard to connect computer networks together. This wasn’t merely philosophical; it was also practical.

Our protocols were designed to make the networks of the Internet non-proprietary and interoperable. They avoided “lock-in,” and allowed for contributions from many sources. This openness is why the Internet creates so much value today. Because it is borderless and belongs to everyone, it has brought unprecedented freedoms to billions of people worldwide: the freedom to create and innovate, to organize and influence, to speak and be heard.

But starting in a few hours, a closed-door meeting of the world’s governments is taking place in Dubai, and regulation of the Internet is on the agenda. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is convening a conference from December 3-14 to revise a decades-old treaty, in which only governments have a vote. Some proposals could allow governments to justify the censorship of legitimate speech, or even cut off Internet access in their countries.

You can read more about my concerns on, but I am not alone. So far, more than 1,000 organizations from more than 160 countries have spoken up too, and they’re joined by hundreds of thousands of Internet users who are standing up for a free and open Internet. On an interactive map at, you can see that people from all corners of the world have signed our petition, used the #freeandopen hashtag on social media, or created and uploaded videos to say how important these issues are.

If you agree and want to support a free and open Internet too, I invite you to join us by signing the petition at Please make your voice heard and spread the word.

Posted by Vint Cerf, VP and Chief Internet Evangelist