Friday, November 27, 2009

What Google Did Next

The Netspeed 2009 conference once again included a popular session on Google. Two librarians from Vancouver Public Library have presented this updated session for the last couple of years and it always proves to be one of the most well attended sessions.

What makes this session so interesting is that they show some of the new, innovative applications that Google-employed staff have created, that you may not have heard about yet. And even if you have heard of them, they show you how to use them in ways that you might not have thought of.

What I find so interesting about the content that is presented at these sessions is that they are largely the product of the Google staff's own imaginations and interests. Apparently Google sets aside a certain percentage of time each week to allow their staff to work on projects that are purely of interest to them. An interesting concept ... what if all organizations did that? Imagine what the results might be.

Here are a few of the new(er) Google applications that were highlighted in this year's session:

Google Labs ( - here you can find newly developed Google applications and programs.

Google 411 ( - an information service; provides free long distance calling to businesses all over North America using this service.

Google Flu Trends ( - uses search data to detemine flu activity around the world.

Google Earth ( - provides maps and satellite images, and includes features such as 3-D buildings and a fly-to feature.

Google Ocean ( - a subset of Google Earth that covers oceanic geography.

Google Books ( - providing free digital content; 5 to 6 million books have been scanned so far into this service. Up to 33% of a book's content can be published by Google (at this time, anyway).

Google Squared ( - a search tool that builds a table of facts about whatever you are searching for. Try searching "Canadian prime ministers" or "British explorers" to see how it works.

Google Street View ( - highly controversial; Google Street View is now in 14 countries, and provides views of streets as you would see them if you were driving down them.

Google Sightseeing ( - using Google Street View, these are prefabricated tours of various cities, regions, and topics (including some of the funniest images caught by Google Street View cameras)

Google In Quotes ( - find out what your favorite (or least favorite) celebrity has said about any topic.

Google Audio Indexing ( - video and audio indexed by Google, which allows you to search for video or audio clips containing specific phrases.

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