Last week, Google announced a feature that would allow users to make their favorite pictures or photos their Google homepage.
They also included images of works of some famous artists like Dale Chihuly, Jeff Koons, Tom Otterness, Polly Apfelbaum, Kengo Kuma (éšˆç ”å¾), Kwon, Ki-soo (ê¶Œê¸°ìˆ˜) and Tord Boontje. There will also be pictures from acclaimed photographer, Yann Arthus-Bertrand and National Geographic.
Today, Google announcing the completion of a new web indexing system called Caffeine. Caffeine provides 50 percent fresher results for web searches than our last index, and it’s the largest collection of web content we’ve offered. Whether it’s a news story, a blog or a forum post, you can now find links to relevant content much sooner after it is published than was possible ever before.
Some background for those of you who don’t build search engines for a living like us: when you search Google, you’re not searching the live web. Instead you’re searching Google’s index of the web which, like the list in the back of a book, helps you pinpoint exactly the information you need. (Here’s a good explanation of how it all works.)
So why did we build a new search indexing system? Content on the web is blossoming. It’s growing not just in size and numbers but with the advent of video, images, news and real-time updates, the average webpage is richer and more complex. In addition, people’s expectations for search are higher than they used to be. Searchers want to find the latest relevant content and publishers expect to be found the instant they publish.
To keep up with the evolution of the web and to meet rising user expectations, we’ve built Caffeine. The image below illustrates how our old indexing system worked compared to Caffeine:
Our old index had several layers, some of which were refreshed at a faster rate than others; the main layer would update every couple of weeks. To refresh a layer of the old index, we would analyze the entire web, which meant there was a significant delay between when we found a page and made it available to you.
With Caffeine, we analyze the web in small portions and update our search index on a continuous basis, globally. As we find new pages, or new information on existing pages, we can add these straight to the index. That means you can find fresher information than ever before—no matter when or where it was published.
Caffeine lets us index web pages on an enormous scale. In fact, every second Caffeine processes hundreds of thousands of pages in parallel. If this were a pile of paper it would grow three miles taller every second. Caffeine takes up nearly 100 million gigabytes of storage in one database and adds new information at a rate of hundreds of thousands of gigabytes per day. You would need 625,000 of the largest iPods to store that much information; if these were stacked end-to-end they would go for more than 40 miles.
We’ve built Caffeine with the future in mind. Not only is it fresher, it’s a robust foundation that makes it possible for us to build an even faster and comprehensive search engine that scales with the growth of information online, and delivers even more relevant search results to you. So stay tuned, and look for more improvements in the months to come.
It’s difficult to say how many in India understand English. But it might be fair to say, as a Microsoft release recently did, that about 95% of the countrys population prefers working in their regional language. That means computing and the web, which is probably 99% English, is largely beyond the vast majority in this country.
This is increasingly being seen now as a huge opportunity. The biggest players in computing are creating applications and tools that make it simple to compute in the local language. For Microsoft, this means it can sell more of its Windows 7 or Office Suite. But as more and more of our activities move to the internet, its a fight with the likes of Google to see who can create the most acceptable applications for local language emailing, messaging, blogging, or social networking.
The attempt is also to help create more local language content. As Rahul Roy-Chowdhury, senior product manager in Google India, says, Unless this content is there, the value of search is diminished. And search, with its associated advertisements, is where Google today makes most of its money.
Transliteration is a tool that is now available with a range of applications. All you need to do is write the local language word using the English alphabet and it converts to the local language script. For example, you can type, Bharathathil pala bhashaigal pesapadugirathu to get the sentence automatically in Tamil. Sanjay Manchanda, director in Microsoft India, says the desktop version can be used with any application working on Windows, such as Word or Outlook, and the web version allows the user to enter text on any web page such as Live mail or Windows Live Messenger without requiring a software download.
Google initially introduced this facility in online services like Gmail, Blogger and Orkut. More recently, it launched an offline transliteration technology for 14 languages that could enable businesses, students, teachers, etc to leverage local languages to communicate with their stakeholders.
Transliteration, of course, requires that you know the English alphabet. Google has provided this technology to SEWA (Self Employed Womens Association) in Gujarat. The women told us that they used to write to their managers in English, but they knew they were not writing it properly and would feel embarrassed about it.
But with this technology, they now write in Gujarati and they say they know they are writing it correctly and feel good, says Roy-Chowdhury. Google has also developed an application programming interface (API) that can be used by any website to enable it to use local language inputs. The Mumbai Municipal Corporation used it to enable people to enter their voter registration information in Marathi. The sulekha.com blogging platform uses this API.
Microsoft recently developed what it calls the Captions Language Interface Pack (CLIP) that makes it easy for developers to develop sophisticated local language applications using Visual Studio. Google, and recently MShave also created translation technology, but these remain far from perfect.