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

This week, we had a number of exciting announcements:

Refine your searches by location
Location can tremendously aid the way you search, so we were pleased to add the ability to refine your searches by location to the Search Options panel. Say you're big on the outdoors and want to find bike rental information, bicycling blogs or the closest sporting goods store. There's a good chance you're looking for information that's relevant to your region, city or even a city you're visiting on vacation. That's where this tool can help. One of the really useful things about this tool is that it works geographically — not just with keywords — so you don't have to worry about adding a city name (e.g., "Berkeley") to your query and missing webpages that are in a similar region (e.g., "East Bay", "Oakland") but might not specifically mention the city in your search.

Example search: [bike stores] - Click on "Show options" to adjust the location. You can narrow the location down to near you, the city you're in, the region or state. You can also select "Custom Location" and enter it directly.

Fetch as Googlebot Mobile added to Webmaster Tools Labs
Last October, we launched Webmaster Tools Labs, and it has been a huge success. Malware Details have helped thousands of users identify pages on their site that may be infected with malicious code, and Fetch as Googlebot has given users more insight into our crawler. Today, we're happy to introduce an additional Labs feature to our line-up: the ability to fetch pages as Googlebot-Mobile.

This was a common request from users with mobile-specific sites, and we thought it was a great idea. We have two mobile options: cHTML (primarily used for Japanese sites) and XHTML/WML. We're excited to bring you this feature based on your feedback, and we look forward to launching more of them in future. Let us know what you think!


Facebook in real-time search
Starting this week we added Facebook content to real-time search in the U.S. Real-time search, which we launched in December, helps you tap into the most relevant, freshest search results on the web, many of which are just seconds old. With this latest addition, you can access the news, photos and blog posts that Facebook fan pages publish to the world. You can find the Facebook Pages updates in our real-time mode by clicking on "Show Options" and then "Latest" or "Updates."

Example search: [facebook]

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for more next week!

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Location has become an important part of the way we search. If you're a foodie looking for restaurant details, food blogs or the closest farmer's market, location can be vital to helping you find the right information. Starting today, we've added the ability to refine your searches with the "Nearby" tool in the Search Options panel. One of the really helpful things about this tool is that it works geographically — not just with keywords — so you don't have to worry about adding "Minneapolis" to your query and missing webpages that only say "St. Paul" or "Twin Cities." Check it out by doing a search, clicking on "show options" and selecting "Nearby."


You can choose to see results nearby either your default location or a custom location, and you can narrow down to results at the city, region or state level. Try these examples:

[things to do on st. patrick's day] - In the Minneapolis region
[food blogs] - Near you
[farmers market] - Near the city of Ithaca
[dmv] - In the same state as Tucson

The new "Nearby" search option is available now on the google.com domain in English.

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As the world's premier athletes assembled in Vancouver for the Winter Games, Googlers in the equally snowy Zurich, Switzerland were preparing for a prestigious event of a different sort. On February 8, 100 top academics from 62 leading universities throughout EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) descended upon our Zurich engineering headquarters for our third annual Faculty Summit — three days of in-depth technical presentations, discussions and networking sessions, all targeted at strengthening partnerships with EMEA's foremost computer science thinkers. Like their athletic counterparts in Vancouver, Faculty Summit attendees face big challenges. EMEA is a huge and very diverse region where companies and universities alike have huge mountains to climb. By sharing information about our projects, plans and initiatives, we hope to foster mutually beneficial relationships with our academic colleagues and their universities — working together to solve the big problems and drive technology forward.


We designed the Summit to allow maximum potential for debate, networking and reflection. Attendees participated in day-long "stream" discussions on themes ranging from privacy and security — with the participation of leading researchers such as Ross Anderson (University of Cambridge) — to natural language technologies, featuring NLP expert Fred Jelinek (Johns Hopkins University). Academics selected from a range of opt-in "teach the teacher"-style workshops on Google tech (including mobile platforms, MapReduce and web technologies). Additional events included a Google Wave demo geared towards educational use and special sessions for guests from Africa and the Middle East, showcasing Google's ongoing work in these regions. This year, we added extra time for 1-1 break-out sessions, in which academics and Google engineers met, chatted and developed ideas in an intimate, face-to-face setting.

The Summit also gave us a chance to see long-term relationships maturing and generating concrete outcomes inside and outside academic settings. Notable guests included keynote speaker Professor Andy Hopper, Head of the Cambridge Computer Lab, whose research initiative Computing for the Future of the Planet (CFTFP) received a Google Focused Research Award earlier this month. Andy's project promises major results in the areas of privacy and green computing research. We were also happy to welcome back former Google Visiting Faculty member Professor Hannah Bast (University of Freiburg). Hannah recently completed a year-long sabbatical with our Zurich development team for Transit in Google Maps, contributing major improvements to an application that started out as a 20 percent project and is now available in over 400 cities around the world. Privacy and security expert Dr. Frank Stajano (University of Cambridge) — our newest Visiting Faculty member — and Sara Adams, Anita Borg Scholar, former Google intern and current software engineer, joined us from the Munich office where they're working on privacy-related projects. We also had several Faculty Research Award winners in attendance, including Dr. Simon Harper (University of Manchester), Dr. Miles Osborne (University of Edinburgh), Lawrence Muchemi (University of Nairobi) and former Visiting Faculty member Dr. Hinrich Schuetze (University of Stuttgart). The Faculty Research Award supports academics working within universities on areas of mutual interest; for instance, Lawrence's Award-funded project creates a new mobile application development course for Kenyan students, while Hinrich and his Stuttgart team are improving search engine results by investigating the structure of queries. Hinrich, Lawrence and our other awardees offer examples of how partnerships can lead to amazing results, on local to global scales. We hope their stories inspired both academic and Googler attendees to take advantage of existing programs and help build new opportunities for all tech users.

Our engineering teams in EMEA and our academic partners have lots of work to do in 2010. This year's Faculty Summit offered an opportunity to explore new solutions, kick-start collaboration and prove, yet again, that our combined efforts always yield results far greater than the sum of their parts! For more information about how Google supports university programs and partnerships, check out our Google Research site and stay tuned for news of the North America Faculty Summit — planned for late July.

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In late 2006, students at a school in Turin, Italy filmed and then uploaded a video to Google Video that showed them bullying an autistic schoolmate. The video was totally reprehensible and we took it down within hours of being notified by the Italian police. We also worked with the local police to help identify the person responsible for uploading it and she was subsequently sentenced to 10 months community service by a court in Turin, as were several other classmates who were also involved. In these rare but unpleasant cases, that's where our involvement would normally end.

But in this instance, a public prosecutor in Milan decided to indict four Google employees —David Drummond, Arvind Desikan, Peter Fleischer and George Reyes (who left the company in 2008). The charges brought against them were criminal defamation and a failure to comply with the Italian privacy code. To be clear, none of the four Googlers charged had anything to do with this video. They did not appear in it, film it, upload it or review it. None of them know the people involved or were even aware of the video's existence until after it was removed.

Nevertheless, a judge in Milan today convicted 3 of the 4 defendants — David Drummond, Peter Fleischer and George Reyes — for failure to comply with the Italian privacy code. All 4 were found not guilty of criminal defamation. In essence this ruling means that employees of hosting platforms like Google Video are criminally responsible for content that users upload. We will appeal this astonishing decision because the Google employees on trial had nothing to do with the video in question. Throughout this long process, they have displayed admirable grace and fortitude. It is outrageous that they have been subjected to a trial at all.

But we are deeply troubled by this conviction for another equally important reason. It attacks the very principles of freedom on which the Internet is built. Common sense dictates that only the person who films and uploads a video to a hosting platform could take the steps necessary to protect the privacy and obtain the consent of the people they are filming. European Union law was drafted specifically to give hosting providers a safe harbor from liability so long as they remove illegal content once they are notified of its existence. The belief, rightly in our opinion, was that a notice and take down regime of this kind would help creativity flourish and support free speech while protecting personal privacy. If that principle is swept aside and sites like Blogger, YouTube and indeed every social network and any community bulletin board, are held responsible for vetting every single piece of content that is uploaded to them — every piece of text, every photo, every file, every video — then the Web as we know it will cease to exist, and many of the economic, social, political and technological benefits it brings could disappear.

These are important points of principle, which is why we and our employees will vigorously appeal this decision.

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Today, we're announcing the next generation of ad serving technology for online publishers — DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP).

For the past few years, we've been investing in a suite of solutions — AdSense, ad-serving technology and the DoubleClick Ad Exchange — to help online publishers make the most money possible from their content, whether they sell advertising directly through their own sales force, through an ad network such as AdSense, or a combination of both.

For major online publishers — including social networks and online communities, entertainment sites, e-commerce sites and news sites — managing, delivering and measuring the performance of ads on their websites can be a hugely complicated process. A publisher's ability to manage this process can have a significant impact on how much money they make from their online content.

Imagine you're a major online publisher with a popular global surfing website and an ad sales team. Every second of every day, you have difficult decisions about what ads to show and how to measure their relative performance. For example:
  • In the same ad space, a surfboard wax advertiser may want to run a static image ad for your Australian readers, while an airline offering flights to Hawaii may want to run an expandable interactive ad for your American readers.
  • A fast-food restaurant wants to run their burger ads before noon and their pizza ads in the afternoon.
  • You've sold 10 different surfboard makers a million ad slots at slightly different prices; now you have to allocate them across your various webpages to fulfill all these orders over the next two weeks.
  • One of your surfing tournament reviews is linked to by a popular news site and you have a surge in traffic. Your sales team couldn't predict this, so you're potentially left without any ads for thousands of readers. You want to fill this ad space by selling it via an ad network which has ads available.
This is really just scratching the surface. Managing ad space can involve faxes, emailed orders, the manual scheduling of different ad campaigns across multiple sites and difficult decisions about how to allocate ad space most effectively.

Major online publishers use ad serving technology to manage the complex process of how and when the ads they have sold appear on their websites. In recent years, we've invested significantly in our ad serving products — DoubleClick's DART for Publishers for large publishers and Google Ad Manager for growing publishers. Thousands of major online publishers use these products to serve billions of ad impressions every day.

But we see an opportunity to improve ad serving even further by combining Google's technology and infrastructure with DoubleClick's display advertising and ad serving experience. Since we acquired DoubleClick in March 2008, our engineering and product teams have been working with online publishers to tackle the obstacles that prevent them from maximizing revenues from their websites.

The upgraded DFP includes a wide variety of features that will help publishers to get the most value out of their online content:
  • A new interface that has been completely redesigned to save time and reduce errors.
  • Far more detailed reporting and forecasting data to help publishers understand where their revenue is coming from and what ads are most valuable.
  • Sophisticated algorithms that automatically improve ad performance and delivery.
  • A new, open, public API which enables publishers to build and integrate their own apps with DFP, or integrate apps created for DFP by a growing third-party developer community (apps under development today include sales, order management and workflow tools).
  • Integration with the new DoubleClick Ad Exchange's "dynamic allocation" feature, which maximizes revenue by enabling publishers to open up their ad space to bids from multiple ad networks. Dynamic allocation is described in this document [PDF].
DFP comes in two flavors, tailored for different publishers' needs: DoubleClick for Publishers, for the largest online publishers, and DFP Small Business, a simple, free version designed for growing online publishers. We'll be upgrading current DART for Publishers publishers to DoubleClick for Publishers over the next year as we continue to add features and modules, and we'll be moving Google Ad Manager customers to DFP Small Business in the coming weeks.

To reflect our continued investment in DoubleClick's products, as well as the central role of DoubleClick's technology products within Google's display advertising business, we're also today unveiling some changes to the DoubleClick logos — including typeset changes, incorporating a new "by Google" theme and retiring the "DART" brand.



The upgraded DoubleClick for Publishers is a perfect example of our continuing innovation in this area, and we believe that it will add significant value to online publishers' content. You can read more about the features of the upgraded DFP on the DoubleClick blog and on the DFP website.

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

This week, real-time search took center stage, along with a surging interest in the Winter Games in Vancouver.

Real-time search in Russia and Japan
Since the release of real-time search in December, we've seen that finding real-time content — often the only source of online information at the time — can be quite profound. For example, recently when California experienced a few earthquakes, real-time content appeared in search results just seconds after the ground shook. As you can imagine, getting this functionality out to the rest of the world has been a top priority. Because of this, we recently launched real-time search with Russian and Japanese, the first of the languages we plan to support. We want to bring you this functionality globally, so stay tuned as we add more countries.

MySpace in real time
Also in real-time news, starting this week we officially added MySpace content to real-time search. Now you can tap into the pool of news, photos and blog posts that MySpace users have chosen to publish to the world. These updates are all ranked to reflect the most relevant, freshest results, many of which are just seconds old. In all, real-time search includes more than a billion documents and processes hundreds of millions of changes daily. We're quite excited to offer this enhancement so that real-time search becomes even more useful. You can find the MySpace updates in our real-time mode by clicking on "Show Options" and then "Updates."

Example search: [myspace]

Better site searches for Images
Based on feedback from users and webmasters, we have improved the [site:] operator for Google Images. In the past, the [site:] operator filtered based on the image URL, not based on the URL of web pages linking to the images. Now, the operator will run your search over web sites that include images, no matter where the images themselves are hosted, which removes a lot of noise from your results and gives you more control over what you're searching for.

Example searches: [site:digg.com space shuttle], [site:morbidanatomy.blogspot.com], [site:flickr.com/photos/polvero]

Trends in searching for the Winter Games
It's been a week since the Winter Games in Vancouver began, and it's clear you have great interest in finding out more about the games. From women's downhill to curling rules, we've seen searches rise as people everywhere watch the quest for gold. Check out Google Trends to see what's of greatest interest now.

Hope you enjoyed this week's features. Stay tuned for what's next!

Posted:
This is part of a regular series of Google Apps updates that we post every couple of weeks. Look for the label "Google Apps highlights" and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

Over the last couple of weeks we've been busy adding new functionality to make communicating and sharing with Google Apps easier than ever, whether you use Google Apps for work, for school or at home.

Web clipboard for Google Docs
As more and more people are getting work done in the cloud with Google Docs, a common stumbling block has been copying and pasting formatted content between documents, spreadsheets and presentations. On Wednesday we made this a whole lot easier with a web clipboard for Google Docs. Just highlight what you want to copy, select from the web clipboard menu, move to your other Google Docs window and choose what you want to paste from the web clipboard menu. Your pasted content will retain its original formatting so you don't have to spend time reformatting.


New saving buttons in Google Docs
One of the most frustrating things about using traditional software is losing your work if something unexpected happens before you remember to save. Google Docs helps solve this problem by frequently saving your latest changes automatically. Still, we've heard from people that they want that extra reassurance that autosave is happening, and to be able to manually save their work more easily. New saving buttons in Google Docs do just that. The buttons let you know when your document is fully saved, in the process of being autosaved or has unsaved changes that haven't been picked up by autosave yet. Now, if there are unsaved changes the "Save now" button is clickable.


Google Buzz
Last week we launched Google Buzz, a new way to start conversations about things you find interesting, like photos, videos, webpages or whatever might be on your mind. Buzz lets you share right from Gmail, or from your mobile phone. You can connect other sites you use like Twitter, Picasa, and Google Reader, and you can post buzz privately or publicly. Since we released Google Buzz, we quickly made a number of improvements based on input from users, and we're committed to keep improving it. Individuals can use Google Buzz now, and we plan to make it available to businesses and universities using Google Apps within a few months.

Google Apps Script for Google Sites
Google Apps Script lets you create programmatic interactions between a whole variety of Google services including contacts, calendars, email, finance data, spreadsheets and more. Businesses often use scripts to automate repetitive processes. Last week, we added Google Sites to the list of products that you can control with scripts. Now, instead of manually updating the content in a site, you can use Google Apps Script to automatically populate pages in your site with calendar data, contact information and data from the other services that work with Google Apps Script. Scripts can even add attachments and be used to update the sharing preferences for your site.

Who's gone Google?
With 3,500 employees, Lincoln Property Company is one of the largest property management firms in the United States. Recently, Lincoln Property made the decision to switch to Google Apps from their complex and costly Novell Groupwise email infrastructure. Not only will they save an estimated $200,000 per year, they'll finally be able to equip every single employee with email, instant messaging and calendars — not just the 950 desk-based workers who previously had email access.

The Google Apps train keeps rolling in the education space as well. Seven million students around the world are now using Google Apps at school! DePauw University and Davenport University are just a couple of the most recent schools to switch to Google Apps.

Hope you're enjoying the latest round of new capabilities, whether you're using Google Apps with friends and family, with work colleagues or with classmates. For details and the latest news in this area, check out the Google Apps Blog.

Update Feb 22: Corrected "gone Google" list.

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(Cross-posted from the Google Voice Blog)

Google Voice is about giving you more control over your communications, through dozens of features — ranging from call screening to voicemail transcription to the ability to send and receive SMS by email.

While we've heard from users that they love our growing list of features, we're conscious of the fact that Google Voice can seem overwhelming to people trying it for the first time.

So we've created a short video that gives an overview of what Google Voice can do.



In addition, we've created a set of short videos that dive into more detail about ten features of Google Voice:
  1. Voicemail transcription
  2. One number
  3. Personalized greetings
  4. International calling
  5. SMS to email
  6. Share voicemails
  7. Block callers
  8. Screen callers
  9. Mobile app
  10. Conference calls
The videos show why you might want to use each feature and basic instructions for getting started. And each video focuses on just one topic so you can learn about the features that matter to you.

Finally, we just launched our own YouTube channel at youtube.com/googlevoice. You can view all of the videos mentioned above in a custom video gadget we built for this channel, which will help you keep track of which videos you've already watched.


We hope these videos help you get the most out of Google Voice.

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Back in January, we announced the start of early registration for Google I/O (our annual developer conference), and our team was excited to publish our new website for this year's event. Today, we're excited to give you a quick update on what's in store for this year's Google I/O and a brief look at what we've announced in the past five weeks.
  • 63 sessions to be led by the engineering teams behind all the products to be featured at I/O, including Android, Google Chrome, Google Web Toolkit and Google Wave. We'll have over 80 sessions listed by May.
  • 58 companies are listed on the Developer Sandbox page, and we expect over 150 companies to participate in the Sandbox at I/O.
  • 99 speakers, including Google engineers and prominent web development experts from other companies.
  • We introduced our very first I/O BootCamp, which sold out in just two days.
Of course, some things will stay under wraps until the event itself, but we're excited to share some Google I/O planning details with you in advance.

We'll be teaming up with Maker Faire again this year for our After Hours evening party. Google I/O attendees will get to preview some of the amazing DIY projects that will be showcased at Maker Faire in San Mateo just a couple of days after I/O, and discounted Maker Faire tickets will be available during After Hours. We've also invited the organizers of Gadgetoff. They'll be bringing along exciting, interactive gadgets, robots and vehicles.

Whether you're already developing apps using products like App Engine, or wondering how to get started on your first Android app, we hope to see you at Google I/O in May. To learn more and to sign up, visit code.google.com/io.

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Imagine being in a foreign country staring at a restaurant menu you can't understand, a waiter impatiently tapping his foot at your tableside. You, a vegetarian, have no idea whether you're about to order spaghetti with meatballs or veggie pesto. What would you do? Well, eventually you might be able to take out your mobile phone, snap a photo with Google Goggles, and instantly view that menu translated into your language. Of course, that's not possible today — but yesterday at the Mobile World Congress we demonstrated a prototype of Google Goggles that has the power to do just that. It's still in an extremely early stage, but we thought we'd share this demo with you because it shows just how powerful a smartphone can be when it's connected to our translation technologies. For more information and to watch the demo, check out our brand-new Google Translate blog.

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Since the fall of 2009 we've seen more and more students and faculty take advantage of Google Apps Education Edition. We've seen our active users grow — first we had 5 million, then 6 million, and today we're happy to announce that we've crossed the 7 million mark. With so many students and faculty using Google Docs, Google Sites and Gmail to collaborate and share their academic work, we figured it's the perfect time to hit the road and help more schools see Google Apps in action.

Beginning in April, the Google Apps Education team will travel to universities across the southern and eastern U.S. to meet with regional CIOs and IT directors in higher education. We'll be hosting these events with some great universities using Google Apps, including Hofstra, Columbus State University, the University of South Florida, Texas Southern University and the University of Virginia.

At every stop, the host universities will share how their students and/or faculty use Google Apps, and show how they've deployed and connected Apps within their technology infrastructure. We'll be devoting a lot of time for questions and we'll have plenty of demos from the Google Apps team. If you're a university CIO, CTO or IT Director in New York, Florida, Georgia or Virginia (or nearby!) and would like to join us at a roadtrip stop, please let us know via this contact form. We hope to see you there!
Google Apps Education Edition CIO Roadtrip - Spring 2010

4/16: Hofstra University
(in conjunction with the New York Higher Education Technology Forum)
Hempstead, NY

4/19: University of South Florida
Tampa, FL

4/21: Columbus State University
Columbus, GA

4/23: University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA

Early June: Texas Southern University
Houston, TX

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

From enhancements in real-time search to Vancouver happenings at your fingertips, this week included a number of exciting search launches:

Winter Games info in search results
As the 2010 Winter Games kick off, we've made it easy for you to follow all of the action in Vancouver. Now, when you search for the latest results for your favorite sport, you'll see the information you're looking for just above the search results. Looking for the latest schedules? They're just a search away. And if you're interested in following how your home country is doing, you can quickly view the latest medal count. All that's left for you to do is cheer for your favorite team and enjoy the games!

Example searches: [men's hockey], [alpine skiing schedule] and [medal count]

Google Buzz in real-time search
Tuesday, we announced Google Buzz as part of our efforts to help make the web more social. Buzz is a new way to start conversations about the things you find interesting, allowing you to share updates, photos and videos right in Gmail. When we launched Buzz we made sure that we had it integrated into real-time search. Since real-time is all about searching what's happening right now, including changes to webpages, the latest news articles, new blog posts and fresh microblog content, it only seemed natural to include Buzz.

Maps of more countries in search results
Many of us use online maps so frequently that it's easy to forget that many countries lack detailed, street-level digital maps. But thanks to people adding their local knowledge to Google Map Maker, the local search results for places like Romania, Iceland, and Peru now include a map. In fact, as of this week we're able to show a map everytime we show local search results. As a result, the efforts of global citizen cartographers are really serving the needs of local users, schools, city planners, and tourists.

Example search: [catedral de lima]

Aardvark acquisition
This week, you might have seen our announcement that we've acquired the technology company Aardvark. Aardvark allows you to easily tap into the knowledge and experience network of your friends and extended network of contacts. The way it works is quite simple — you just send a question in plain English, like you would when speaking with a friend. Aardvark then acts as a hub, figuring out who might be able to answer your question, and then responds with an answer. You can read more about the announcement here, and Aardvark is already available in Google Labs, so you can try it out today.

It was a busy week for us in search. See you back here next week!

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When you need an answer to a very specific question, sometimes the information just isn't online in one simple place. For example, let's say you want to know if there's snow on Skyline Boulevard on a given day or the best time of year to plant beans in the Bay Area. You might find weather reports and planting guides on many different sites, but for these kinds of questions, a person with the right expertise can be a lot more useful than a webpage.

That's why we're excited to announce that we've acquired Aardvark, a unique technology company that lets you quickly and easily tap into the knowledge and experience of your friends and extended network of contacts. Aardvark analyzes questions to determine what they're about and then matches each question to people with relevant knowledge and interests to give you an answer quickly.

We're very impressed with the Aardvark team and the technology they've worked hard to build, and we're looking forward to collaborating to see where we can take it. You can learn more about Aardvark's underlying technology and premise by reading this paper recently co-authored by founder Damon Horowitz.

In the meantime, Aardvark is available today in Google Labs, so give it try!

Posted:
(Cross posted on the Google Docs Blog)

We all want important life moments — like graduating from school, getting married or having your first baby — to be perfect. For many couples, your wedding is a chance to celebrate with everyone you care about; it's also the largest, most complicated party you'll ever host. From tracking guest RSVPs, to picking the right florist, DJ and caterer, to coordinating every last detail with your wedding party, it's no surprise that the process can become overwhelming and expensive.

After proposing to the woman of my dreams with 100 red roses, six months ago I started planning my own wedding. My fiancee and I decided to use Google Docs to manage every aspect of our wedding, starting with shared budget, guest list, to-do list and venue-tracking spreadsheets and keeping all our docs in our "Wedding" shared folder. I ended up talking to other couples who planned their weddings using Google Docs and discovered I wasn't alone in thinking that it helped save time and avoid headaches.

Today, I'm happy to share this knowledge in the form of over 20 wedding templates available in the Google Docs template gallery. These tools make it easy to estimate and track your wedding budget, collect addresses for invitations, compare vendors and much more. For example, take a look at the address book template below. Instead of emailing hundreds of guests and copy/pasting hundreds of addresses into a spreadsheet, you can send a Google form and collect addresses in a spreadsheet automatically:


Because these documents, spreadsheets and forms live online in the cloud, you can easily get help by sharing them with your parents or bridal party, and you can access them from the bakery, bridal shop or anywhere around town using your smartphone. Plus, you never have to worry about versions and email attachments, because everything is always up to date.

Having the tools to plan a wedding is a good start, but you also need to know what questions to ask when interviewing vendors and which factors to consider when inviting guests or choosing music. To give you a leg up, we've teamed up with StyleMePretty.com, a popular wedding blog, to add tips from wedding experts to each template. StyleMePretty is also hosting a sweepstakes and asking engaged couples to share their wedding planning experiences. One randomly selected winner will receive free consultation with celebrity event planner Michelle Rago and a $500 gift certificate to Wedding Paper Divas.

We're excited to give more engaged couples tools to make the wedding planning process easier and more fun. To learn more about simplifying wedding planning with Google Docs and Style Me Pretty, check out docs.google.com/wedding.

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As thousands of Mac fans and developers gather in San Francisco for this week's Macworld conference, we're particularly delighted to announce a new beta release of Chrome for Mac. Today's release includes some of our most requested features from the Mac community, including extensions and bookmark sync.

You can read more about these features on the Google Chrome blog, or you can try it out directly by downloading the Google Chrome Beta for Mac. If you're already using Chrome, you should be automatically updated to the new beta within the next day.

Downloading Google Chrome will give your mouse pointer a new reason to get excited:



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Imagine sitting in a rural health clinic, streaming three-dimensional medical imaging over the web and discussing a unique condition with a specialist in New York. Or downloading a high-definition, full-length feature film in less than five minutes. Or collaborating with classmates around the world while watching live 3-D video of a university lecture. Universal, ultra high-speed Internet access will make all this and more possible. We've urged the FCC to look at new and creative ways to get there in its National Broadband Plan – and today we're announcing an experiment of our own.

We're planning to build and test ultra high-speed broadband networks in a small number of trial locations across the United States. We'll deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today with 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connections. We plan to offer service at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people.

Our goal is to experiment with new ways to help make Internet access better and faster for everyone. Here are some specific things that we have in mind:
  • Next generation apps: We want to see what developers and users can do with ultra high-speeds, whether it's creating new bandwidth-intensive "killer apps" and services, or other uses we can't yet imagine.
  • New deployment techniques: We'll test new ways to build fiber networks, and to help inform and support deployments elsewhere, we'll share key lessons learned with the world.
  • Openness and choice: We'll operate an "open access" network, giving users the choice of multiple service providers. And consistent with our past advocacy, we'll manage our network in an open, non-discriminatory and transparent way.
Like our WiFi network in Mountain View, the purpose of this project is to experiment and learn. Network providers are making real progress to expand and improve high-speed Internet access, but there's still more to be done. We don't think we have all the answers – but through our trial, we hope to make a meaningful contribution to the shared goal of delivering faster and better Internet for everyone.

As a first step, today we're putting out a request for information (RFI) to help identify interested communities. We welcome responses from local government, as well as members of the public. If you'd like to respond, visit this page to learn more, or check out our video:



We'll collect responses until March 26, and will announce our target communities later this year. Stay tuned.

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(Cross-posted from the YouTube Blog)

Diversity of content is one of the great things about YouTube. But we know that some of you want a more controlled experience. That's why we're announcing Safety Mode, an opt-in setting that helps screen out potentially objectionable content that you may prefer not to see or don't want others in your family to stumble across while enjoying YouTube. An example of this type of content might be a newsworthy video that contains graphic violence such as a political protest or war coverage. While no filter is 100% perfect, Safety Mode is another step in our ongoing desire to give you greater control over the content you see on the site.

It's easy to opt in to Safety Mode: Just click on the link at the bottom of any video page. You can even lock your choice on that browser with your YouTube password. To learn more, check out the video below.

And remember, ALL content must still comply with our Community Guidelines. Safety Mode isn't fool proof, but it provides a greater degree of control over your YouTube experience. Safety Mode is rolling out to all users through out the day, watch for the new link at the bottom of any YouTube page.



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We've blogged before about our thoughts on the social web, steps we've taken to add social features to our products, and efforts like OpenSocial that propose common tools for building social apps. With more and more communication happening online, the social web has exploded as the primary way to share interesting stuff, tell the world what you're up to in real-time and stay more connected to more people. In today's world of status messages, tweets and update streams, it's increasingly tough to sort through it all, much less engage in meaningful conversations.

Our belief is that organizing the social information on the web — finding relevance in the noise — has become a large-scale challenge, one that Google's experience in organizing information can help solve. We've recently launched innovations like real-time search and Social Search, and today we're taking another big step with the introduction of a new product, Google Buzz.

Google Buzz is a new way to start conversations about the things you find interesting. It's built right into Gmail, so you don't have to peck out an entirely new set of friends from scratch — it just works. If you think about it, there's always been a big social network underlying Gmail. Buzz brings this network to the surface by automatically setting you up to follow the people you email and chat with the most. We focused on building an easy-to-use sharing experience that richly integrates photos, videos and links, and makes it easy to share publicly or privately (so you don't have to use different tools to share with different audiences). Plus, Buzz integrates tightly with your existing Gmail inbox, so you're sure to see the stuff that matters most as it happens in real time.



We're rolling out Buzz to all Gmail accounts over the next few days, so if you don't see it in your account yet, check back soon. We also plan to make Google Buzz available to businesses and schools using Google Apps, with added features for sharing within organizations.

On your phone, Google Buzz is much more than just a small screen version of the desktop experience. Mobile devices add an important component to sharing: location. Posts tagged with geographical information have an extra dimension of context — the answer to the question "where were you when you shared this?" can communicate so much. And when viewed in aggregate, the posts about a particular location can paint an extremely rich picture of that place. Check out the Mobile Blog for more info about all of the ways to use Buzz on your phone, from a new mobile web app to a Buzz layer in Google Maps for mobile.



We've relied on other services' openness in order to build Buzz (you can connect Flickr and Twitter from Buzz in Gmail), and Buzz itself is not designed to be a closed system. Our goal is to make Buzz a fully open and distributed platform for conversations. We're building on a suite of open protocols to create a complete read/write developer API, and we invite developers to join us on Google Code to see what is available today and to learn more about how to participate.

We really hope you enjoy the experiences we've built within Gmail and for mobile phones. If you want to learn more, visit buzz.google.com. We look forward to continuing to evolve and improve Google Buzz based on your feedback.

Update on 2/10: The video from yesterday's Google Buzz launch event is now available:



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The view from Whistler Mountain is something everyone should see: a range of rugged mountains, trails of snow, fir trees and placid lakes below. It's changed since I lived there some years back — there are many more houses, and far better chairlifts — but what remains is the rare feeling of being free, in nature, about to tear into peak snow.

In time for the Games in Vancouver and Whistler, we're thrilled to be bringing this view to the world through Street View on Google Maps. How were we able to gather imagery at 7,000 feet (2,000 meters)? The Street View team's constant experimenting yielded a snowmobile decked out with cameras to capture slope-level imagery of several runs on Whistler Blackcomb Mountains. The view from the top of 7th Heaven chairlift on Blackcomb and from the peak of Whistler are among my favourites, as are the top of the Dave Murray downhill, where the men's alpine skiing events will start, and the Peak 2 Peak gondola. (That's Whistler's new feat of engineering which takes skiers and riders from Whistler to Blackcomb.) With the Street View trike, we've also covered Whistler Village and Whistler Creekside at the mountains' bases. There's more about the snowmobile's journey and this imagery on the Google Lat Long Blog.



This imagery and many other tools are now ready to ride on our new website with information about the Games, available in 40 languages. We've combined up-to-date medal counts, news, event results and event schedules with rich visuals: 3D models and Street View imagery of the competition venues, plus new aerial imagery of the Vancouver-Whistler area. It's all in an iGoogle gadget, too. The site also connects you with real-time search results for the Games, local experts' Favourite Places and a special Picasa Web Albums gallery of featured photos from Vancouver — some submitted by users and others from Google News. Whether you're celebrating at home or in Vancouver, simply add a "wintergames2010" tag to your own photos in Picasa Web Albums, or use "wintergames2010" as the email subject if you're uploading from your mobile phone, and we'll feature the best ones.

As an extra treat for enthusiasts, check out the Google homepage from February 12 to 28 for a special doodle each day celebrating the Games. You can also get the most up-to-date medal counts, event results and schedules by doing a simple Google search. I'll be following [men's hockey] myself, and rooting for Team Canada.

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All website owners need to pay for the costs of creating content and making it available online. Whether delivering entertainment, products, news, services, social networking or opinions, they need to pay their way by selling advertising or charging their users.

Website owners, or "online publishers," span the range from individual bloggers to multinational companies. If they sell advertising, they can do this directly themselves, via their own sales force. Alternatively, they can use an ad network to place ads on the pages of their website. Many publishers use a combination of these methods if they can't sell all their ad space themselves (for example, a publisher may have an unpredicted surge in traffic — and therefore ad space — resulting from a popular post, or from a major website linking to them).

We have a long history of helping online publishers make money from their websites. We wanted to update you on our continuing work in this area, and how Google’s newer products can provide real and significant results for clients.

We currently have three main products that work together to help online publishers of all sizes and types maximize their revenue.

AdSense
AdSense, launched in 2003, places highly relevant ads on our partners' websites, who share in the ad revenue. In 2009, our AdSense partners, comprising over a million large and small publishers, earned over $5.2 billion through AdSense.

AdSense is designed to help online publishers get the most revenue possible for their ad space, without having to directly manage advertiser relationships. When a publisher enables AdSense on their site, Google automatically maximizes the publisher's revenues every time a page loads. It does this in real time, by selecting the most valuable ad from AdWords advertisers and a large pool of other competing ad networks and buyers.

Ad serving
Larger publishers with their own ad sales teams use our ad serving products (like DoubleClick's DFP or Google Ad Manager) to serve the most valuable ad that they've sold directly to advertisers or ad agencies. DFP is the industry's leading ad serving platform that powers the advertising businesses of the largest online publishers, while Google Ad Manager is designed to meet the needs of growing online publishers.

Our ad serving products are a key focus for us and we're continuing to make significant investments in this area. You can read about some of our DFP customers here and some of our Google Ad Manager customers here.

DoubleClick Ad Exchange
DoubleClick Ad Exchange is a real-time auction marketplace for display ad space — it includes ad networks on one side, and major online publishers on the other. Publishers are in complete control of which networks they allow to bid, what ads can appear on their sites and which ad space they make available.

Maximizing revenue across various ad networks is sometimes called "yield management." For major online publishers, the Ad Exchange offers an easy-to-use yield management solution — it selects the highest paying ad from across multiple, competing ad networks, in real time. However, the Ad Exchange goes further than simple "yield management" to provide a more complete revenue maximization solution.

Through a unique process called "dynamic allocation," it also compares — again, in real time — the value of the highest-paying ad in the Ad Exchange with any ads that the publisher has entered into their ad server (such as ad network deals) and chooses the highest paying one. By definition, the Ad Exchange only serves ads when it can offer a higher price for ad space. In fact, analysis shows that the average price a publisher receives for ad space sold through the Ad Exchange is over 130% higher than the average price of ad space sold directly to ad networks and other third parties. (Of course, while similar, the ad space being compared is not identical.)

A continuing effort
Today's online publishers, large and small, operate in a complicated and fragmented advertising environment. We're focused on developing a full suite of technology products — such as AdSense, ad serving products and DoubleClick Ad Exchange — that can maximize all publishers' advertising revenues. We're also working to bring new advertisers to online advertising and make the process easier for them, to grow the advertising pie for everyone.

By doing this, we hope to help all publishers fund their websites, which enables them to create a wide variety of online content for all Internet users.

If you're interested in the ins-and-outs of our approach to maximizing revenue for publishers, you can read more in this document.

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While 106 American football players sought yardage in the 2010 Super Bowl, millions of people sought information related to the big game from Google search. We looked at some game-day search trends and data* to see what football fans were searching for this year.

Most searched-for team
To the victor of this year's big game went the search spoils: The New Orleans Saints captured both the NFL championship and the lion's share of Super Bowl team searches in 2010.

Most searched-for player
For leading the New Orleans Saints to their 31–17 win over the Indianapolis Colts — with 288 yards, two touchdowns and 32 of 39 passes completed — quarterback Drew Brees won the Most Valuable Player award. But Peyton Manning earned the status of the Super Bowl's most searched-for player, beating out some tough competition and followed by Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, Hank Baskett and Scott Fujita.

Many fans of Reggie Bush also expressed interest in his girlfriend Kim Kardashian; searches for her name, both on its own and linked with Reggie Bush's, spiked significantly during the game. Additionally, search volume for football great Walter Payton — after whom the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award was named — was as high as that for some of the game's top five most searched-for players.

Most searched-for coach
Behind every team is a great coach, and behind every coach is an engaged online community. This year, Sean Payton, who has coached the New Orleans Saints since 2006, was the most searched-for team leader.

Most searched-for party planning terms
Die-hard football fans and casual shindig hosts alike look forward to game day for its party planning possibilities. This year, people went online to find all the information they needed to watch the game and to make sure they were well-fed during the same. Some top rising recipe searches on game day included buffalo chicken dip, guacamole, 7-layer dip and pigs in a blanket.

People were also looking for information on how and when to watch the game; searches related to the start time of the game and watch Super Bowl 2010 online were both notably high.

Most searched-for advertisers
In addition to spotlighting some of the finest football teams in the U.S., the Super Bowl is a showcase for some of the funniest, coolest and most interesting creative advertisements each year. This year, the prospect of "free" dominated the searched-for ads. The offer of free pants from Dockers garnered a spike of queries which continued throughout the game. Twice, Denny's advertised free grand slam breakfasts, leading to two bumps in searches for Denny's free breakfast, Denny's locations and Denny's.

Searchers also enjoyed ads featuring celebrities — including Betty White, who played football and ate Snickers bars, and Megan Fox, who used a Motorola smartphone.

We told the story of an American who finds love in Paris — using search queries. Google Super Bowl commercial led searchers to the love story of a man who dutifully searched for information on how to impress a French girl, long distance relationship advice and how to assemble a crib. (Full disclosure: We work for this advertiser.)

Stay tuned
Which advertiser won the position of Favorite 2010 Super Bowl Ad, according to fans? Check out YouTube's Ad Blitz results on February 17 to see which Super Bowl ad received the greatest number of positive votes from the YouTube community. Until then, you can use Google Trends to see more Super Bowl-related queries.

*We used internal tools to quickly gather this data. All of the search queries we looked at were anonymous — no personal information was used.

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If you watched the Super Bowl this evening you'll have seen a video from Google called "Parisian Love". In fact you might have watched it before, because it's been on YouTube for over three months. We didn't set out to do a Super Bowl ad, or even a TV ad for search. Our goal was simply to create a series of short online videos about our products and our users, and how they interact. But we liked this video so much, and it's had such a positive reaction on YouTube, that we decided to share it with a wider audience.

If you like it too, we hope you'll watch the others. Enjoy.

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

In addition to language improvements this week, we released several other new features:

Haitian Creole translation
We've now added Haitian Creole (kreyòl ayisyen) translation to Google Translate, so that you can translate between Creole and 51 other languages, and also hear spoken versions of Creole translations. While this translation system is still evolving (when translating to/from Creole, English performs better than other languages), we hope it will help relief volunteers communicate better with Haitian earthquake victims, and serve as a useful resource for people in Haiti and elsewhere. To learn more about ways you can help with Haiti relief efforts, please visit our Crisis Response page.

Example translations: [Kijan ou ye ?] and [How can I help you?]

Improvement for Arabic searches
Sometimes when people conduct a search, they forget to separate words with spaces or mistakenly repeat a letter within a word. These types of errors are much more common in languages like Arabic, where some letters are considered word breaks. In other words, if the last letter of one word is a word break, the following word may not be separated with a space. To address issues like this, we recently developed a search ranking improvement that targets certain Arabic queries. Our algorithm employs rules of Arabic spelling and grammar and signals from historical search data to indicate when to leave out spaces between words or when to remove unnecessarily repeated letters. Now, when you type a query leaving out spaces or repeating a letter, you'll see better results based not only on what you typed, but also on what our algorithm understands is the "correct" query.

Example search: [التربيةوالتعلييم] Incorrectly typed, this Arabic query may not produce a relevant search result. With our algorithm change, the query returns better results for the correct meaning: "Ministry of Education."

Doodle 4 Google
This week marks our third annual Doodle 4 Google contest in the U.S. The competition gives K-12 kids the opportunity to design their own Google logo and the winner appears on Google.com for a day so that hundreds of millions of searchers can enjoy it as well. In addition to the bragging rights, there are a number of great prizes including a college scholarship and computers for the winner's school. If you or your child are interested in getting involved, check out our announcement or visit the Doodle 4 Google contest page for entry rules.

Stars in Google News
A couple of months back, we launched the Custom Sections Directory feature in Google News, enabling you to setup and share sections on topics of interest. Now there's an even easier way to keep up to date with particular news stories. Mark a story cluster by clicking on the star next to it — just like you do with messages in Gmail and items in Google Reader. Once you've starred a story in Google News, when there are significant updates, we'll alert you by putting the headline in boldface. You can also follow your most recent starred stories in the Starred section of Google News. Learn more about this, and get starring!

Thanks for following news of our search enhancements, and stay tuned for more.

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This is part of a regular series of Google Apps updates that we post every couple of weeks. Look for the label "Google Apps highlights" and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

Developments over the last couple weeks really showcase how Google's other innovation focus areas — including Search, Mobile and Chrome — help make Google Apps even more useful.

Updates to Google Search in Gmail Labs
On Tuesday we made some helpful changes to the Google Search feature in Gmail Labs. The search gadget now runs some of Google's most popular search features, like dictionary definitions, spelling suggestions, calculations, local results, weather info and news. You don't even need to type your search query anymore; just highlight text in the compose area and click the multicolored "g" button to run a search on those terms.


Gmail Chrome extensions
Several convenient extensions for Gmail are now available to Chrome users. The "Google Mail" extension adds a small button next to Chrome's address bar that displays your unread mail count. "Send from Gmail" makes Gmail your default mail program, and opens a Gmail compose window when you click an email link on a web page. The button for this extension helps you quickly share the web page you're viewing over email.


Easier file location in Google Docs
Last week we introduced a pair of improvements to make finding files in Google Docs easier. First, we launched an option to show file thumbnails in your Documents List, which is great for quickly spotting what you're looking for. Just click the view option buttons in the toolbar to toggle between thumbnails and the standard text layout.


Also released last week: search spelling suggestions help you find the file you're looking for, even when your typing is off. The Google Docs search spell checker is powered by the same technology that helps you get better search results on google.com.


Scripts for Google Apps Standard Edition
At the end of last week we launched application scripting for Google Apps Standard Edition. (Before it was only available to businesses and schools using Premier and Education Editions.) Scripts can be triggered from spreadsheets to perform automated tasks and calculations, but scripts go far beyond spreadsheets; they can be used to fire off automated email messages, create appointments in Google Calendar and accomplish other actions across the whole Google Apps suite. We've written up a few script tutorials if you have the itch to give scripting a try.

Mobile device management
Just yesterday, Google Apps Premier and Education Edition customers got a boost in their ability to manage mobile devices synced with Google Apps. Right from the online control panel, IT admins can remotely wipe data from lost or stolen mobile phones, configure devices to lock after a period of inactivity and set password strength requirements. These new capabilities are available for iPhones, Windows Mobile devices and Nokia E-series phones. Stay tuned for similar features for Android devices.

Who's gone Google?
It's been another very active couple weeks helping more businesses and schools move to the cloud. The team is happy to welcome the latest crop of Google Apps customers, including Complinet, The Open University, Villanova University, Small World Financial Services, Tuskegee University, Clemson University and the New Zealand Post.

Saline Area Schools in Michigan has an especially impressive "gone Google" story. They're saving $400,000 in the first year, spending much less time on server administration, keeping spam at bay and fostering better collaboration among faculty.

Fairchild Semiconductor also recounted their experience switching 6,000 employees spread across 20 countries off their legacy Lotus Notes installation, selecting Google Apps and Postini over hosted email alternatives from Microsoft and IBM. Barry Driscoll, Senior Director of IT for Fairchild summed it up best: "Now we are providing our employees with a lot more functionality for a lot less money."

Hope you're enjoying the latest round of new capabilities, whether you're using Google Apps with friends and family, with work colleagues, or with classmates. For details and the latest news in this area, check out the Google Apps Blog.

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Each year, Vogue and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) sponsor a Fashion Fund to support emerging designers. In 2009, each participating designer was asked to create a one-of-a-kind item inspired by Google in some way — whether through our logo's colors, technology or our commitment to equal access to information. Last October, we transformed 10 of the finalists’ designs into iGoogle Artists themes. While we loved seeing fashion meet iGoogle, we wanted to see these pieces in person — and wear them! Today, we’re debuting three of our favorite designs from this challenge. These three featured designers have customized their original designs for a broader audience, and we’re making them available to the public to purchase for a limited time. Check out this page to learn more about the items, the designers and how they were inspired by Google.


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Today, we're excited to announce our third annual Doodle 4 Google contest in the U.S. Google doodles, created by our talented team of doodlers, have helped us celebrate events and anniversaries from Van Gogh's birthday to Valentine's Day. And since 2008, Doodle 4 Google has given K-12 kids the opportunity to create their own logo and have it displayed on the Google homepage for hundreds of millions of users to enjoy for a day.

In addition to the winner's art appearing on Google.com on May 27, 2010, they'll also receive a $15,000 college scholarship, a laptop computer and a $25,000 technology grant for their school.

This year's theme is "If I Could Do Anything, I Would..." and it's all about pushing the limits, dreaming big, and seeing what you can accomplish in life. When coming up with inspiration for this year's contest, we turned to some of our very own Googlers, including Ed Lu, a former astronaut.

Ed typifies this year's theme in action, and shares an inspiring anecdote:

On my first mission STS-84, one of my crewmates and I were having dinner aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis. After all our work for the day was done, we decided to eat "upside down" on the ceiling, gazing out at the Earth moving by below our feet. As we flew around the Earth, watching the continents go by, my crewmate remarked how amazingly large the Earth really is. But at that same time, it also felt small to us. There we were, flying at 18,000 miles per hour around the Earth in a machine built by humans, with a crew made up of astronauts from all over the world. Both of our observations were true at the same time. The world is indeed a big place with many challenges. But by using science, technology and the power of people working together, nearly anything is possible.

So dream big! If you could do anything, what would you do?


For even more inspiration, you can see last year's winner, Christin Engelberth, a sixth grader at Bernard Harris Middle School in San Antonio, Texas. She titled her doodle "A New Beginning" to express her wish that "out of the current crisis, discoveries will be found to help the Earth prosper once more."

We're happy to let you know that this year, we've also assembled a panel of well-known "Expert Jurors," including creative directors, cartoonists and famous animators ranging from Sesame Workshop to Pixar Animation Studios. Our Expert Jurors will help us narrow down the cream of the crop to 40 regional finalists, who will come to the Google office in New York City on May 26, 2010. For the second year, we'll also be partnering with the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, where the top 40 regional finalists will get to have their artwork displayed in a national exhibit. And for the first time this year, we'll give out eight Technology Booster awards to schools that submit maximum number of doodles per school by March 10th and have students in our 400 State Finalists.

Please visit the official competition website for a full listing of all contest rules and requirements. Only students from registered schools can enter, so be sure your school is registered by March 17, 2010. All doodles must be submitted by March 31, 2010.

We hope you're as excited about this year's contest as we are. Good luck!