Feeds

Google Research probes educasearch engine

Holds fire on Google Wave

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Peter Norvig - current Google Research head and the company's former director of search quality - is exploring some sort of new-age search engine aimed specifically for students.

Wednesday, at the search-obsessed SMX West conference in Silicon Valley, Norvig was asked if he was doing anything in "20 per cent" time - Googlespeak for the one day a Mountain View week that engineers can use for pie-in-sky personal projects. "I'm starting to work now on education search," he said.

"We need to do a better job of supporting people who are taking a class or want to really learn something - something that's not just about coming into [the Google core search engine] for five minutes, but where someone wants to be led to a task over the course of a semester or a year.

"[I'm looking into] how that's different from short term search."

It should be noted that Mountain View already offers Google Scholar, but that's merely a collection of academic texts. Norvig appeared to be discussing an interface overhaul. He did not provide additional information.

Later in the conversation, Norvig said that Google will soon release some prototype software for juggling the vast amounts of email messages netizens are so often forced to. But he was vague about this as well. "We do have some experimental things we'll be rolling out, some tools for helping with that," he said.

But he also questioned whether email is the way forward. "Is email the right tool?" he asked. "For me, one of the reasons email is so bad is that I'm on all these legacy mailing lists that I don't really need to be on. Maybe just slashing that all down and starting over would help."

In other words, perhaps email should be replaced by a new online communication platform.

Norvig mentioned Google Wave and, well, Google Buzz as possible email replacements. This was the stated aim of Google Wave when it was first conceived by Lars and Jens Rasmussen, the two brothers previously known for building Google Maps. But it seems that even Google Research is unsure about whether Wave is the way to go.

Asked if Google Research was using Wave more than email, Norvig indicated it had yet to really catch on. "Some people are [using it]," he said. "But it's still people trying to figure out where it works. At a certain point, there's so many tools out there - even within the company. Do I make a Google Doc? A Google Wave? A Google Site? There are all these choices that seem arbitrary based on the formats more than based on the content. And that's just within our company.

"We're going to have to see some consolidation where you don't make the choice of what technology. You make the choice of what content you want to put out. You just create it and it gets put out in the right way." ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
'People have forgotten just how late the first iPhone arrived ...'
Plus: 'Google's IDEALISM is an injudicious justification for inappropriate biz practices'
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 Healthkit gets a bug SO Apple KILLS it. That's real healthcare!
Not fit for purpose on day of launch, says Cupertino
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.