Google Blogoscoped

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Google From A - Z

Answers: Google Answers was a “human search engine” project that ran from 2002-2006. Around 500 researchers worldwide at a time, often experts in their fields, directly answered to paid questions at anything from relationship tips to shampoo ingredients to “I can vaguely remember this movie scene but forgot the movie’s title.”

Beta: The Beta label is applied to new technology products when they enter the first public testing stadium (after the internal-only Alpha release). A Beta product is traditionally considered too unstable for really important data, but that doesn’t stop people from using Beta-products like Gmail. More recently, Google started to release products labeled with “Labs” or “Test” too. Google itself carried the Beta label once, though not on its first release.

Cinema: Several times a year, Google’s Marissa Mayer organizes a Google-internal event called “Google Movies” – which, according to Google, consists of taking 6,000+ people (Google employees plus family and friends) to the cinema.

Dorks: A lot of Google employees are self-proclaimed dorks, geeks, nerds or otakus. (If you know the subtle differences between these four groups, you are likely a member of either one.)

EBay: EBay ads pop up for the most unlikely search queries in Google results. People spotted such “must have” items as “foot fungus,” “dog feces” or “hole in the head.”

Free Love: While not exactly free love, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have some roots in counter-culture, and are said to attend the Burning Man festival year after year, sometimes “body-painted blue and green” (consequently, the Google homepage back in 1999 displayed a Burning Man logo). According to Sergey, now-CEO Eric Schmidt was partly hired because he was “the only candidate who had been to Burning Man.”

Google Sucks: is a domain owned by Google. It is still unclear what kind of service Google is preparing to launch for this one.

Homepage, Google’s: The Google homepage is one of the most minimalist pages on the web, and was so even back in the late 1990s when portals were fashionable. Google says in the beginning, user tests revealed that that some people didn’t even understand that the page was already finished loading, because so little was showing on it – they just kept staring at it, waiting. For this reason, Google introduced a copyright footer to make sure people understand that’s all there is.

Income: Google’s Marissa Mayer once told German Stern magazine she’d even be going to work if she wasn’t paid for it, because she considers Google such an important job serving so many people. (Don’t try this at home: working for free is a luxury only rich people have.)

Jet: Google’s billionaire co-founders Larry and Sergey have their own party Boeing.

Koogle: was once an unofficial “Jewish Google” parody, promising a kosher Search.

Leet: Google releases a variant of their homepage in “leet speak,” internet jargon for the cryptic language used by (wannabe) hackers.

Man in a Tie: A big-nosed man in a tie had his 15 minutes of fame when he was spotted next to Larry and Sergey during a Googleplex tour.

News, Google: While Google News displays stories of all kinds, automatically aggregated from around 10,000 hand-picked sources, the Goodle News parody chose to display good news only.

O’s, The Google Logo’s: Quick, don’t look now but tell me: what colors do the “o"’s in Google’s logo have?

Pen: The official Google pen comes in many shapes and colors, and there’s even one that radiates some light.

Queen, Google’s: Marissa Mayer, Google vice president of search products and user experience, is the undisputed Queen of the Googleplex. Her laughter even makes the ringtone charts.

Rooms, Google: Google Rooms was an April Fool’s (meta) joke in 2006, and a take on Google Maps.

Services, Google’s: Back in 2000, Google co-founder Sergey Brin said, “We don¬ít want to be building out lots of services.”

Tiananmen Square, Wikipedia’s Page About: Google agreed to remove the Wikipedia page covering “Tiananmen Square” from their Chinese search results.

Universally Accessible: Google’s self-proclaimed mission is to make information “universally accessible.” Also see -> Tiananmen Square.

Valentine’s Day: Google once released a special, Java-based Valentine’s Day animation.

Web-based email clients: Gmail, Google’s email client, made a splash when it arrived on April Fool’s day 2004 because it contained 1 gigabyte of memory – much more than competition like Hotmail (200 K) had back then.

X, Google: “Google X” was an official Google Labs product released in March 2005. The service displayed the Google homepage in Mac OS X style, with icons that grew larger when you hovered over them. Coded in a single night by a hyperactive Google programmer, the site was taken down equally quickly (for unknown reasons)... though it survives on a couple of mirrors.

Youngest Employee: Last year, 15-year old Tom Vendetta managed to fool Google News by injecting a fake press release which claimed he was Google’s youngest employee. “The student will receive a lowered salary, which will be placed into a bank account for future education,” the press release quoted Larry Page.

Zebra: The first result for “zebra” on Google Video points to a YouTube flick showing that yes, a zebra can beat a lion. If ever you feel “dang, this challenge is too big for me,” think of this zebra.


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