The University of California at Berkeley has chosen Google over Microsoft for its campus-wide email and calendar services, and it will tell you why — in great detail.
Google and Microsoft are locked in a battle for the hearts and minds of businesses, government agencies, and schools across the globe, each touting its own suite of business applications as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Sometimes, Google wins, and sometimes Microsoft. But Berkeley’s choice is worth noting because the university so carefully explained why it picked one over the other. Though both Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 are billed as “cloud” services, they are very different things. Google is built to operate entirely on the web, while Microsoft’s suite still leans on local software.
Berkeley plumped for Gmail and Google Calendar in part because they’re cheap — Google offers its Apps to schools and colleges for free — but the university looked at far more than just price. This week, it laid out a detailed comparison of Google and Microsoft on its public website. “We’re a public university so we want to be transparent about the decision,” Shelton Waggener, the UC Berkeley CIO, tells Wired.
While Google came out ahead in a large majority of Berkeley’s email-related evaluations, Waggener said that the decision was not as easy as it may look on paper. With the school’s roughly 70,000 students and staff already using so many web and software tools on their own, he said, the IT department must consider not only its own preferences but the preferences of so many others. “We recognize that whatever choice we make, we’ll have to continually re-evaluate,” he says. “These aren’t permanent decisions anymore.”
The school started looking for new services in part because of recent outages on its existing email system, CalMail. Google’s ability to move the school from CalMail to Gmail in an estimated six to ten weeks was an important consideration, according to Berkeley’s report. “A UC Berkeley migration to Google can start faster and with less infrastructure investment,” the report says. “Google’s solution is optimized for web-based interaction. It is designed to be quickly provisioned and a migration to Google could begin more quickly than one to Office 365.”
Office 365, the report says, would require the installation and configuration of local software before any migration could begin and a “significant change” the company’s mail routing infrastructure. “Office 365 offers an integrated experience for on-premise and cloud users,” it reads. “This comes at a greater ongoing, operational expense and complexity of maintaining central infrastructure.” The report also cites recent news that the University of Nebraska still hasn’t completed its migration to Office 365 despite being one of the first university’s to sign-up for the service after its debut this past summer.
All that said, Berkeley liked that Microsoft would allow the company to better straddle the line between local software and services in the proverbial cloud.
The university also liked Gmail because it’s already used by a large swath of students and faculty. The report notes that a “significant” percentage of UC Berkeley’s student body is familiar with Gmail and that a large number of students are already forwarding their existing school email to a Gmail address. After the move to Gmail, the report says, it would be easy for users to retain multiple, separate email accounts. By contrast, there’s not a consumer version of Office 365 comparable to Gmail, the report says, and Microsoft’s solution would force users to consolidate separate accounts into one.
But Google’s victory wasn’t completely one-sided. Microsoft scored well on calendar tools, with the University arguing that a move to Office 365 would cause fewer problems for calendar “power users” — those who “may schedule dozens of meetings a day for several administrators and keep track of one to two dozen calendars minute by minute.” The report says that only about 5 percent of the people on campus are power users, but they account for about fifty percent of calendar use. “The lessened functionality in Google would be a detriment to these power users’ productivity going forward,” the report says.
Microsoft also came out ahead on security. After examining such security issues as authentication, encryption of stored email, and guarantee on where data will be stored, the university feels that Microsoft has a clear edge. “Google is inferior on all fronts,” the report says, “but only by a small margin.”
Asked to comment on the Berkeley report, Microsoft pointed to Berkeley’s recent decision to some of its other software on campus, including Windows. “Productivity is in our DNA,” reads a statement from Microsoft. “This is a market we understand well and care about deeply. We’re delivering the power and familiarity of Office as part of easily consumer cloud solutions that non competitor can match.”
But behind the scenes, according to Berkeley’s Shelton Waggener, Microsoft has contacted the university to take issue with its report, requesting certain changes be made. He also said that several other universities have phoned to thank him for laying out the university’s thinking in such detail.
Berkeley’s very public report spotlights yet another clash of the tech titans. But when you consider the university’s efforts to accommodate what students and faculty are already using — and its ultimate choice of Google — it raises a larger question. Why do schools even provide an email account anyway? Gmail and most web-based clients are free. Schools — especially state school strapped for funding — could save on huge infrastructure costs by cutting the email systems and just letting student use their own accounts. An email address would just be one more data point gathered during registration, like a phone or social security number.
Waggener’s office is considering the question, and he notes that campus surveys find that many students prefer to receive information via text messages and Facebook rather than email. “It’s fair to say that email is for old people,” he says with a laugh. But Waggener is also serving the university’s entire staff and faculty. The university still believes in a unified infrastructure, and all things considered, email and calendars are still a very important part of that. Waggener says that if Berkeley changed technologies with the arrival of each new thing, it would still be using MySpace. “You have to be prepared to move, but you can’t be schizophrenic about it,” he says. “I would rather build the tools to let students choose.”
Google 全體員工在此致上最深的謝意，感謝您一直以來持續與 Google 合作，並祝您闔家新年快樂。
– Google 小組敬上
Google's latest Easter Egg make it "snow."
Photo by Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images.
Fresh off its popular "do a barrel roll" trick, Google’s back with a new Easter Egg, this one of the winter holiday variety.
Users who enter "let it snow" in the search field are greeted with a flurry of digital snowflakes on their screen, followed by frost that eventually takes over the entire page.
Have no fear, you can use the left button on your mouse much as you would a gloved hand to clear the frost or, for those looking for a less manually-intensive option, the search button turns into a defrost button.
Go ahead, have at it. If all your Christmas shopping has left you too exhausted to actually type in the words, we've got you covered. Just click here. You're welcome. Merry Christmas.
MINNEAPOLIS — Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said Wednesday that it would be a mistake for Congress to approve Hollywood-backed legislation meant to combat online piracy because it would be ineffective and could fundamentally alter the way the Internet works.
Companion bills before the House and Senate would allow copyright holders to go to court to compel credit card companies and online advertising companies, including Google, to cut off websites dedicated to distributing pirated material. Prosecutors would be able to get court orders forcing search engines to drop the sites.
In response to a question after speaking Wednesday at the University of Minnesota, Schmidt said it would be a mistake to adopt the bills’ approach to fighting piracy. “The problem with the two bills is that they go after all the wrong problems,” said Schmidt.
Schmidt said some provisions in the bills were technologically difficult, including giving copyright holders the right to delete links from the Internet and criminalizing the indexing of the content by search engines.
“There are a whole bunch of issues involved with breaking the Internet and the way it works,” he said.
Another big problem, he said, was that the bills won’t work. He said the criminal activity would immediately move to different websites and continue.
“The correct solution, which we’ve repeatedly said, is to follow the money,” Schmidt said. “Making it more explicitly illegal to make money from that type of content is what we recommend.”
Finally, Schmidt said they violated free speech rights protected in the First Amendment. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the author of the Senate bill, disputed that in a statement released by his office Wednesday afternoon.
“There is no First Amendment right to steal,” he said. “This (bill) will protect Americans’ intellectual property rights, which in turn boosts our economy and promotes American jobs.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., has introduced a separate bill that would update current federal copyright law to make clear that streaming copyrighted material for commercial purposes can be prosecuted as a felony. A spokesman, Linden Zakula, said Klobuchar “hopes that Leahy and the House authors work to address the concerns about the larger bill.”
Schmidt spoke at the university’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. The university is one of the biggest users of the Google’s free applications in higher education in the United States, with more than 90,000 Google email accounts.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
GOOGLE has announced it will kill its much hyped Google Wave real time messaging platform on April 30 next year, and six other projects.
Google Wave combined instant messaging and email and was designed to allow multiple users to collaborate on projects in real time.
Despite its technical sophistication, Google Wave failed to become popular, and there are many blogs speculating as to why: its complexity is cited as one of the main reasons.
In an email sent to Wave users, Google said as of January 31, all "waves" would be read-only.
“As of January 31, 2012, all waves will be read-only, and the Wave service will be turned off on April 30, 2012,” Google said in the email.
“You will be able to continue exporting individual waves using the existing PDF export feature until the Google Wave service is turned off. We encourage you to export any important data before April 30, 2012.”
Google in its blog says it is closing down seven services overall.
“We’re in the process of shutting a number of products which haven’t had the impact we’d hoped for, integrating others as features into our broader product efforts, and ending several which have shown us a different path forward.”
The other services to shut down are:
•Google Bookmarks Lists: an experimental feature for sharing bookmarks and collaborating with friends. It will end on December 19.
•Google Friend Connect: a service that allows webmasters to add social features to their sites by embedding snippets of code. The service will end for non-blogger sites on March 1 next year;
•Google Gears: it allowed the creating of offline web applications. Gears-based Gmail and Calendar offline will stop working across all browsers on December 1.
•Google Search Timeline: a graph of historical results for a query.
•Knol: it allowed experts to collaborate on in-depth articles. Instead, Google said it had been working with Solvitor and Crowd Favorite to create Annotum, an open-source scholarly authoring and publishing platform based on WordPress.
•Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal (RE
“Overall, our aim is to build a simpler, more intuitive, truly beautiful Google user experience.,” Google said in the blog.
KALIA is a stripper name, but Kaleya is not, her parents-to-be concluded.
No offense to the Kalias of the world, but Lecia and Thor Kaslofsky decided this two years ago, after conducting a Google search of names they were considering for their first child.
A search for Kalia pulled up several images of scantily clad women. “I didn’t want there to be a Google identity for her to wrestle with,” said Ms. Kaslofsky, a corporate investigator in San Francisco. So the couple, who wanted an uncommon name, came up with a creative spelling that sounds the same as kah-LEE-ah: Kaleya.
Another Google search didn’t raise any red flags, and thus a name was born. “The Kaleyas online were an illustrator of goth posters and a Spanish metal band,” she said.
In our still-budding digital world, where public and private spheres cross-pollinate in unpredictable ways, perhaps it’s not surprising that soon-to-be parents now routinely turn to Google to vet baby names. A quick search can help ensure that a child is not saddled with the name of a serial killer, pornography star or sex offender.
But what’s new is the level of complexity that Google and other search engines have brought to the name game. Some parents want names that are unique so their child will rise to the top of future search results. Others want names that are uncommon enough to bestow uniqueness, but not so exotic that they would be considered weird on the playground. A rare few want their child’s name to get lost in a virtual crowd.
While there are no reliable statistics on the matter, a small survey on LilSugar, a parenting and pop culture site, found that 64 percent of respondents had Googled their baby’s name before settling on it.
Uniqueness seems to be a primary motive and has spurred an unspoken competition among parents to find the most original names, said Laura Wattenberg, author of “The Baby Name Wizard,” a guide for selecting a name. “Parents thinking of a baby name will type it in and say: ‘Oh, no, it’s taken. There are already three others with that name.’ ”
But too little research can backfire, too. Deborah Goldstein, 43, and her partner, Gabriella Di Maggio, thought they had chosen unique names for their boys: Levi and Asher. To be sure, they checked the Social Security Administration’s list of most popular baby names. Neither was in the top 100.
“I did not want them to have names where there were 15 in their class like I was,” Ms. Goldstein said. “There were a lot of Debbies back then”
But shortly after the couple moved to South Orange, N.J., in 2006, they had a rude awakening. While waiting at an ice cream parlor, they heard a woman shout “Asher!” at a different boy.
“It was two other Jewish lesbian moms with a child of the same name,” Ms. Goldstein said. Google had let her down. “It didn’t tell us it’s a unique name unless you move to a neighborhood outside New York City where other trendy Jews are moving, too.”
More common, it seems, are parents who strive for a middle ground. “You want your kid to be unique enough so there aren’t 80 of them, but not so unique that they seem weird,” said Doug Moe, a comedian in Brooklyn whose show, “Doug Moe Is a Bad Dad,” is playing at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. His 5-year-old daughter, Phoebe, he points out, shares a first and last name with at least two other Phoebe Moes online.
It’s the rare parent, it seems, who wants a common name for a child. New parents, after all, envision future presidents, Super Bowl winners and cancer curers, not Vatican streakers or college beer-bong guzzlers.
But maybe common names are more prudent. A recent study by the online security firm AVG found that 92 percent of children under 2 in the United States have some kind of online presence, whether a tagged photo, sonogram image or Facebook page. Life, it seems, begins not at birth but with online conception. And a child’s name is the link to that permanent record.
“When you name your baby, it’s a time of dreaming,” Ms. Wattenberg said. “No one stops and thinks, ‘What if one day my child does something embarrassing and wants to hide from it?’ ”
Maybe the wisest approach in our searchable new world is to let computers do the naming.
Lindsey Pollak, a writer on the Upper West Side of Manhattan who specializes in career advice, fancied the name Chloe when she was pregnant with her daughter. Her husband, Evan Gotlib, wanted Zoe.
To settle the feud, they downloaded a 99-cent iPhone app called Kick to Pick. After typing in the two names, they held the phone to Ms. Pollak’s stomach, as the phone alternated between the two. When the fetus kicked, the phone froze on one name, like a coin toss. It came up Chloe for each of the four tries.
The next thing Ms. Pollak did, of course, was to Google it. “One of the Web sites said Chloe means little green shoots, and we liked that,” Ms. Pollak said. Chloe it was. They even registered their unborn child’s first and last name as a domain name and signed her up on Tumblr, Twitter and G-mail.
The Kaslofskys wish they had had that foresight. When they Googled Kaleya in 2009, there were only a few relevant results. But since then, the parents of another child named Kaleya have started posting videos of that little girl’s adventures on YouTube, with titles like “Kaleya Makes a Snow Angel” and “Kaleya Runs From a Wave.”
Ms. Kaslofsky is miffed. “Things have changed in the last three years,” she said.
Luckily, she’ll get a second chance: Ms. Kaslofsky is pregnant with her second child, a boy. “We are probably going to name him Lucian, which is related to a family name of Thor’s, and call him Luke.” she said.
Why? “We like the name.”
Google+ was supposed to be a "Facebook killer". Some now say it's already dead - but the search giant says it is just getting started.
Similarly, search giant Google, which unveiled its much-anticipated online social network Google+ at a private launch in June, is battling recent reports from pundits who claim the network is "dead".
Early reports wagered that the service would one day rival social network Facebook in popularity. But a mere four months later, grim headlines have begun popping up on the homepages of US media outlets.
The online tool gained 10 million users within the first 16 days after its private launch, and 40 million within the first 100 days, making it the fastest-growing social network in the history of the web.
Facebook and Twitter both took more than two years to hit the 10 million user milestone.
But web analytics firm Chitika reported in October that excitement appeared to have waned for Google+ one month after its public launch, with traffic down 60% after spiking to 1,200% of pre-launch levels.
Bradley Horowitz Google+
We have not even begun, let alone these reports of premature demise”
Google has not released figures on the number of users signing up since September.
Meanwhile Facebook, which now boasts more than 800 million users, has unveiled features similar to those that once set Google+ apart - such as the ability to lump friends into groups in order to separate who sees which content.
Reporting for Forbes, Paul Tassi was clear about the challenge Google faces trying to compete with Facebook.
"No-one is going to scrap a social network they've spent eight years building up to start over from scratch for one that offers only a few minor improvements," he wrote.'Social layer'
Bradley Horowitz, vice-president of product at Google+, says the service aims to be more than simply a social networking website.
"Google+ is a foundational element for identity, relationship, interest across all we're doing at Google," Mr Horowitz tells BBC News, adding that the social networking function is just one of many social tools.
Mr Horowitz says Google is attempting to build a social layer across all its products - including Gmail, YouTube and Blogger - in an effort to help tie the services together.
For instance, Google+ users can recommend links, videos and other pieces of content to their friends by clicking "+1" on a small widget, Google's version of the Facebook "Like" button.
This +1 is then used to help inform Google about how to list results from search criteria for each user.
"Everything we do is going to be informed by this sense of person and interest and relationship, so that all users' data can be used in their interest at their discretion," Mr Horowitz says.
"So the concept of Google+ dying, it's a misunderstanding of what we're doing," he says. "We have not even begun, let alone these reports of premature demise."
John Abdell, New York Bureau chief of Wired.com, agrees with Mr Horowitz, but adds that Google+ could conceivably grow alongside Facebook, rather than in competition with Mark Zuckerberg's empire.
Mr Abdell told BBC News that online communities were maturing and had "entered an era where there will not be a single dominant social network that kills the previous one, which has been the history of social networks so far".
And he says that if any company can build itself up as a social superpower alongside Facebook, it is Google.
"We're not talking about somebody who has borrowed $10,000 (£6,400) from his mommy," Mr Abdell says. "This is Google."
"Since Google has such deep pockets, the notion that you can declare it dead because you are counting numbers and trend lines on a spreadsheet is kind of loopy."Major player
Google has partly built its reputation on the breadth of its services, from email to photo sharing to music streaming. Users of these products total in the hundreds of millions, comparable figures to Facebook's reach.
But Google's bedrock still remains its search engine, which has been challenged by the increasing trend of online users finding content through their friends rather than through search.
Whether Google+ grows or not, the public should expect to see Google putting everything it has into the service's promotion and development during the coming months.
After all, many people first learned about Google+'s reported demise through friends - on Facebook.
PARIS — When the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, home to the Dead Sea Scrolls, reopened last year after an extensive renovation, it attracted a million visitors in the first 12 months. When the museum opened an enhanced Web site with newly digitized versions of the scrolls in September, it drew a million virtual visitors in three and a half days.
The scrolls, scanned with ultrahigh-resolution imaging technology, have been viewed on the Web from 210 countries — including some, like Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Syria, that provide few real-world visitors to the Israel Museum.
“This is taking the material to an amazing range of audiences,” said James S. Snyder, the museum’s director. “There’s no way we would have had the technical capability to do this on our own.”
The digitization of the scrolls was done by Google under a new initiative aimed at demonstrating that the Internet giant’s understanding of culture extends beyond the corporate kind. The Google Cultural Institute plans to make artifacts like the scrolls — from museums, archives, universities and other collections around the world — accessible to any Internet user.
“We’re building services and tools that help people get culture online, help people preserve it online, promote it online and eventually even create it online,” said Steve Crossan, director of the institute, which is based in Paris.
The plans for the Cultural Institute grew out of the Dead Sea Scrolls initiative and another pilot project for Google in Israel, in which it helped bring the photos and documents of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial onto the Web.
Previous Google cultural programs have also been incorporated into the center, including the Google Art Project, a digital repository of pictures from museums like the National Gallery in London, the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Now the institute is building up its activities in Paris, where it will be one of the anchors of a sprawling new Google headquarters for Southern and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, which is set to open next year.
So far, the institute is mostly just a team of engineers working on projects like the ones in Israel. Among the first projects are partnerships with the Palace of Versailles, to help it develop galleries devoted to the history of the chateau, and with the Nelson Mandela Foundation in South Africa. Other plans will be announced soon, Mr. Crossan said.
In addition to working with individual museums and archives, Mr. Crossan said, the engineers intend to develop a standard set of tools that any institution could use to digitize its collection. That way, even small, private archives or collections could be placed online in formats that would make them easily accessible to broad audiences.
When the new building opens, the institute will get a physical presence, including a gallerylike area featuring exhibits on how to present culture in an increasingly digital world.
Google plans to invite cultural figures for talks before live audiences, which will be filmed and posted on YouTube, the company’s video sharing site.
“We’ll discuss all kinds of things — subjects that are of relevance to Google, but really just subjects that are of relevance to the cultural world and the world of technology more generally,” Mr. Crossan said, in his first interview since plans for the institute were disclosed. “It’s one of the ways we actually wanted to connect with the cultural world.”
“We’re engineers; we’re technologists,” added Mr. Crossan, who does, however, have a history degree from Oxford. “We hope we bring competence in storing large amounts of data and serving it and creating a good experience for users, but we’re not professional curators or historians or artists ourselves, so we need to connect with that world.”
Indeed, Google has sometimes struggled to persuade cultural leaders to accept its plans. The company has been sued by authors and publishers on both sides of the Atlantic over its book-digitization project. In 2009, President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged hundreds of millions of euros toward a separate digitization program, saying he would not permit France to be “stripped of our heritage to the benefit of a big company, no matter how friendly, big or American it is.”
When Google recently signed an agreement with the biggest French publisher, Hachette Livre, to scan and sell digital books, Culture Minister Frédéric Mitterrand issued a news release reiterating the importance of authors’ rights, which both Hachette and Google insist will be protected under their accord.
The activities of the Cultural Institute differ from some other Google initiatives in that there are few outward signs of the company’s involvement. While Google provided the technology to digitize the Dead Sea Scrolls and is host to the pages on its servers, for example, the only reference to the company is a small note that the site is “powered by Google.”
Mr. Crossan said Google did not want to “come across as the bad guy.”
“Sometimes we have, in the past, not quite taken the time we needed in terms of communicating what we wanted to do,” he acknowledged. “I think those lessons have been very well learned in the DNA of the company.”
Mr. Crossan said Google was providing its services to the cultural institutions at no cost, with no immediate expectation of a financial return. Why would Google, a publicly traded, profit-motivated company, take such a step? Philanthropy and public relations are not the only goals, Mr. Crossan acknowledged.
“There’s certainly an investment logic to this,” he said. “Having good content on the Web, in open standards, is good for the Web, is good for the users. If you invest in what’s good for the Web and the users, that will bear fruit.”
Is it appropriate for museums and other nonprofit cultural institutions to work so closely with a money-making machine like Google?
Corporate sponsorship of the arts is nothing new, of course. Elizabeth Merritt, founding director of the Center for the Future of Museums at the American Association of Museums, called Google’s support “just an evolution in the scale and scope of the traditional relationship between museums and sponsors.”
“Museums should make savvy use of these kinds of relationships,” she added.
Michael Lieber, chief information officer at Yad Vashem, said one of the center’s goals — to disseminate information about the Holocaust as widely as possible — aligned neatly with Google’s self-proclaimed mission to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Like the Israel Museum, Yad Vashem saw an immediate increase in traffic when its enhanced site opened early this year. The number of unique visitors went from 60,000 a year to 60,000 a month, Mr. Lieber said.“People need to remember that Yad Vashem’s mission statement is not about technology,” he said. “Maybe in a world where there was money for everything, you wouldn’t need money from people like Google. But we don’t live in that kind of world.”
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — In a top-secret lab in an undisclosed Bay Area location where robots run free, the future is being imagined.
It’s a place where your refrigerator could be connected to the Internet, so it could order groceries when they ran low. Your dinner plate could post to a social network what you’re eating. Your robot could go to the office while you stay home in your pajamas. And you could, perhaps, take an elevator to outer space.
These are just a few of the dreams being chased at Google X, the clandestine lab where Google is tackling a list of 100 shoot-for-the-stars ideas. In interviews, a dozen people discussed the list; some work at the lab or elsewhere at Google, and some have been briefed on the project. But none would speak for attribution because Google is so secretive about the effort that many employees do not even know the lab exists.
Although most of the ideas on the list are in the conceptual stage, nowhere near reality, two people briefed on the project said one product would be released by the end of the year, although they would not say what it was.
“They’re pretty far out in front right now,” said Rodney Brooks, a professor emeritus at M.I.T.’s computer science and artificial intelligence lab and founder of Heartland Robotics. “But Google’s not an ordinary company, so almost nothing applies.”
At most Silicon Valley companies, innovation means developing online apps or ads, but Google sees itself as different. Even as Google has grown into a major corporation and tech start-ups are biting at its heels, the lab reflects its ambition to be a place where ground-breaking research and development are happening, in the tradition of Xerox PARC, which developed the modern personal computer in the 1970s.
A Google spokeswoman, Jill Hazelbaker, declined to comment on the lab, but said that investing in speculative projects was an important part of Google’s DNA. “While the possibilities are incredibly exciting, please do keep in mind that the sums involved are very small by comparison to the investments we make in our core businesses,” she said.
At Google, which uses artificial intelligence techniques and machine learning in its search algorithm, some of the outlandish projects may not be as much of a stretch as they first appear, even though they defy the bounds of the company’s main Web search business.
For example, space elevators, a longtime fantasy of Google’s founders and other Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, could collect information or haul things into space. (In theory, they involve rocketless space travel along a cable anchored to Earth.) “Google is collecting the world’s data, so now it could be collecting the solar system’s data,” Mr. Brooks said.
Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder, is deeply involved in the lab, said several people with knowledge of it, and came up with the list of ideas along with Larry Page, Google’s other founder, who worked on Google X before becoming chief executive in April; Eric E. Schmidt, its chairman; and other top executives. “Where I spend my time is farther afield projects, which we hope will graduate to important key businesses in the future,” Mr. Brin said recently, though he did not mention Google X.
Google may turn one of the ideas — the driverless cars that it unleashed on California’s roads last year — into a new business. Unimpressed by the innovative spirit of Detroit automakers, Google now is considering manufacturing them in the United States, said a person briefed on the effort.
Google could sell navigation or information technology for the cars, and theoretically could show location-based ads to passengers as they zoom by local businesses while playing Angry Birds in the driver’s seat.
Robots figure prominently in many of the ideas. They have long captured the imagination of Google engineers, including Mr. Brin, who has already attended a conference through robot instead of in the flesh.
Fleets of robots could assist Google with collecting information, replacing the humans that photograph streets for Google Maps, say people with knowledge of Google X. Robots born in the lab could be destined for homes and offices, where they could assist with mundane tasks or allow people to work remotely, they say.
Other ideas involve what Google referred to as the “Web of things” at its software developers conference in May — a way of connecting objects to the Internet. Every time anyone uses the Web, it benefits Google, the company argued, so it could be good for Google if home accessories and wearable objects, not just computers, were connected.
Among the items that could be connected: a garden planter (so it could be watered from afar); a coffee pot (so it could be set to brew remotely); or a light bulb (so it could be turned off remotely). Google said in May that by the end of this year another team planned to introduce a Web-connected light bulb that could communicate wirelessly with Android devices.
One Google engineer familiar with Google X said it was run as mysteriously as the C.I.A. — with two offices, a nondescript one for logistics, on the company’s Mountain View campus, and one for robots, in a secret location.
While software engineers toil away elsewhere at Google, the lab is filled with roboticists and electrical engineers. They have been hired from Microsoft, Nokia Labs, Stanford, M.I.T., Carnegie Mellon and New York University.
A leader at Google X is Sebastian Thrun, one of the world’s top robotics and artificial intelligence experts, who teaches computer science at Stanford and invented the world’s first driverless car. Also at the lab is Andrew Ng, another Stanford professor, who specializes in applying neuroscience to artificial intelligence to teach robots and machines to operate like people.
Johnny Chung Lee, a specialist in human-computer interaction, came to Google X from Microsoft this year after helping develop Microsoft’s Kinect, the video game player that responds to human movement and voice. At Google X, where he is working on the Web of things, according to people familiar with his role, he has the mysterious title of rapid evaluator.
Because Google X is a breeding ground for big bets that could turn into colossal failures or Google’s next big business — and it could take years to figure out which — just the idea of these experiments terrifies some shareholders and analysts.
“These moon-shot projects are a very Google-y thing for them to do,” said Colin W. Gillis, an analyst at BGC Partners. “People don’t love it but they tolerate it because their core search business is firing away.”
Mr. Page has tried to appease analysts by saying that crazy projects are a tiny proportion of Google’s work.
“There are a few small, speculative projects happening at any one time, but we are very careful stewards of shareholders’ money,” he told analysts in July. “We are not betting the farm on these.”
The Internet giant Google has learnt from recent history that it still has much to understand about the places and people for which it provides services.
In Germany, in particular, there have been numerous problems and it seems there is a lot that the Internet company has yet to discover.
Many Germans simply put their foot down when it came being themselves photographed or having their homes displayed on Google Streetview. German web users also rebeled when they were told it was not possible to use a pseudonym on its social networking site. And, there is the problem with data protection - something for which Google has often been criticized by German authorities.
Academics from different spheres will need to understand each other, says Pernice So, it appears apt that the Californian business has stated its own academic project, the Institute for Internet and Society, in Germany itself.
The new institute at the Humboldt University of Berlin cost some four-and-a-half million euros ($6.3 million). "This is a great idea," said Ingolf Pernice, one of the four founding directors of the institute and a law professor at Humboldt University.
"We want to understand how the Internet is changing our world and here we can investigate it in an interdisciplinary way."
The questions that arise are multiple, although they still have to be properly formulated: Copyright, political mobilization, the transformation of the public sphere.
Together, experts in law, the media and politics would look at these issues from their own individual perspectives. "First of all, we just have to learn to mutually understand each other," said Pernice.
As well as the Humboldt University, Berlin University of the Arts (UDK) and the city's Social Science Research Center (WZB) are involved and Hamburg's Hans Bredow Institute is also cooperating.
Stressing the need for independence
While the desirability of the project is perhaps understandable, what drives Google to donate several million dollars to it? Admittedly, with quarterly profits - most recently - of 2.73 billion dollars, it is relatively small change, but the connection has raised concerns.
Is the internet giant - described by some as a data-gathering monster - now stretching its tentacles into the realm of free and supposedly independent research? "We have kick-started the Institute for Internet and Society and provided the money for that," said Google spokesman Ralf Bremer, "and we look forward to the results."
Bremer says that, even if study results are critical of Google, they would be valued Bremer denied that there might be any pressure exerted when it came to results and research issues. "If results that are critical of Google arise, that is okay," said Bremer. "Dialogue is important."
And at least the institute brought the company a positive couple of days of headlines. Meanwhile, it is notable how often the independence of the institute is stressed.
Two entities have actually been established, one for research and the other dealing with sponsorship. It is hoped that more supporters can be brought on board. "We are taking part in the search," said Bremer.
No rare thing
It is not particularly rare for academia to take the money of private investors. The academic innovation body Stiftverband has registered more than 600 professors who are paid through private business.
The researchers are in fact encourage to try and find extra funding for their research. Those who are successful can enjoy a good standing in their universities - although they may sometimes be met with suspicion.
Indeed, there are examples of donor organizations being perceived to use such arrangements to their advantage. One such example was Deutsche Bank, which contributed three-million euros to a professorship in finance and was then accused of trying to wield influence to its advantage.
But director Pernice, has few worries about the ethics of the situation. "If the Google people tell me one day that they do not like my work, I will start working again with European law," he said and jokingly added that "at the moment, I think I am the one that is exploiting Google."
Author: Heiner Kiesel / rc
Editor: Andreas Illmer
In the early 1900s, John Wanamaker, a political figure and well-known merchant, coined one of the most famous quotes about advertising: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is, I don’t know which half.”
For the past century that observation has remained true, but that is slowly changing as online companies start delivering real-time analytics about Web surfers and the ads they see. It could be used for social networking advertising — an area that Google is poised to enter with its new social network, Google+.
On Wednesday, at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Google announced that it is releasing tools that will help narrow the advertising conundrum even further. The company showed off a new analytics tool called “Flow Visualization” that can track the path users take when navigating a Web site.
The new tools are for Google Analytics, the free service for Web site owners and app developers to track what happens on their Web sites, like the number of visits to a site, the percentage of first-time visitors and the amount of time people spend there.
Now, with something called flow visualization, Web sites will also be able to see what those visitors do on the site in a graphical format. For example, they could first sort visitors by which browser they use or which country they live in, then see which pages they visit and how many abandon the site at each point along the way.
Flow Visualization takes the data Google collects and then creates an interactive visual map. The graphic will illustrate the number of people who are navigating a Web site, but also the path they take on their journey: entering through the home page, clicking on interior links and viewing ads along the way.
Susan Wojcicki, senior vice president for advertising at Google, said at the conference that the new tool was inspired by a form of early data visualization from the 1900s known as a spaghetti graph. Ms. Wojcicki pointed to an early map showing Napoleon’s army as it marched on Russia in 1812, which shows the number of soldiers who died on the journey over a period of time.
In a similar way, Ms. Wojcicki said, ”Flow visualization enables Google to show how people are moving around a Web site.”
“We think this is going to help data be told in a story that can be understood very quickly and easily,” Ms. Wojcicki said.
Ms. Wojcicki said that the tool would be useful for companies running promotions on social networking sites like Google+ and Facebook. They want to know how many visitors a promotion sent to the site immediately, not two days later.
Google also recently introduced a paid version of Analytics for businesses that want extra features.
Ms. Wojcicki said Google will be releasing the new product to Google Analytics users in the coming weeks.
Google’s high-priced acquisitions and new businesses have spooked shareholders, but its third-quarter earnings offered some assurance that its central business is sound.
除台灣之外，Google將同步在新加 坡及香港分別成立亞太資料中心。微驅科技總經理吳金榮說，Google成立資料中心，一定會根據當地環境條件篩選，台灣在供電穩定、電價便宜、優秀人才及 具有許多代工客戶等優勢下，成為Google成立資料中心的據點，就是對台灣投資環境的一種肯定。
至於彰化最後勝出的關鍵，許佳齡表 示，Google依照嚴謹的資料中心興建計劃審核標準與程序，在全球各地物色合適的用地，其中須充分考慮地點與用戶的鄰近度、穩健的基礎設施、可靠的供電 系統、一流技術人員、合理的商業法規，及成本等各方面因素，由於台灣彰化符合所有上述條件，因此決定設立。