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." ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
Not appy with your Chromebook? Well now it can run Android apps
Google offers beta of tricky OS-inside-OS tech
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
NHS grows a NoSQL backbone and rips out its Oracle Spine
Open source? In the government? Ha ha! What, wait ...?
Google extends app refund window to two hours
You now have 120 minutes to finish that game instead of 15
Intel: Hey, enterprises, drop everything and DO HADOOP
Big Data analytics projected to run on more servers than any other app
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
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?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.