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Fostering a love for reading among Indonesian kids

14 December[ —]

Siti Arofa teaches a first grade class at SD Negeri Sidorukan in Gresik, East Java. Many of her students start the school year without foundational reading skills or even an awareness of how fun books can be. But she noticed that whenever she read out loud using different expressions and voices, the kids would sit up and their faces would light up with excitement. One 6-year-old student, Keyla, loves repeating the stories with a full imitation of Siti’s expressions. Developing this love for stories and storytelling has helped Keyla and her classmates improve their reading and speaking skills. She’s just one child. Imagine the impact that the availability of books and skilled teachers can have on generations of schoolchildren.


In Indonesia today, it's estimated that for every 100 children who enter school, only 25 exit meeting minimum international standards of literacy and numeracy. This poses a range of challenges for a relatively young country, where nearly one-third of the population—or approximately 90 million people—are below the age of 15.  


To help foster a habit of reading, Google.org, as part of its $50M commitment to close global learning gaps, is supporting Inibudi, Room to Read and Taman Bacaan Pelangi, to reach 200,000 children across Indonesia.


We’ve consistently heard from Indonesian educators and nonprofits that there’s a need for more high-quality storybooks. With $2.5 million in grants, the nonprofits will create a free digital library of children's stories that anyone can contribute to. Many Googlers based in our Jakarta office have already volunteered their time to translate existing children’s stories into Bahasa Indonesia to increase the diversity of reading resources that will live on this digital platform.


The nonprofits will develop teaching materials and carry out teacher training in eastern Indonesia to enhance teaching methods that improve literacy, and they’ll also help Indonesian authors and illustrators to create more engaging books for children.   


Through our support of this work, we hope we can inspire a lifelong love of reading for many more students like Keyla.


Photo credit: Room to Read



Save development time with our new 3D debugging tool

13 December[ —]

Developing 3D apps is complicated—whether you’re using a native graphics API or enlisting the help of your favorite game engine, there are thousands of graphics commands that have to come together perfectly to produce beautiful 3D visuals on your phone, desktop or VR headsets.

To help developers diagnose rendering and performance issues with their Android and desktop applications, we’re releasing a new tool called GAPID (Graphics API Debugger). With GAPID, you can capture a trace of your application and step through each graphics command one-by-one. This lets you visualize how your final image is built and isolate calls with issues, so you spend less time debugging through trial and error until you find the source of the problem.

The goal of GAPID is to help you save time and get the most out of your GPU. To get started with GAPID, download it, take your favorite application, and capture a trace!


The Google Assistant: coming to tablets and more Android phones

13 December[ —]

From phones to speakers to watches and more, the Google Assistant is already available across a number of devices and languages—and now, it’s coming to Android tablets running Android 7.0 Nougat and 6.0 Marshmallow and phones running 5.0 Lollipop.

The Google Assistant, now on Tablets

With the Assistant on tablets, you can you can get help throughout your day—set reminders, add to your shopping list (and see that same list on your phone later), control your smart devices like plugs and lights, ask about the weather and more.

The Assistant on tablets will be rolling out over the coming week to users with the language set to English in the U.S.

Lollipop phones, introducing your Assistant

Earlier this year we first brought the Assistant to Android 6.0 Marshmallow and higher with Google Play Services. Today, we’re adding Android 5.0 Lollipop to the mix, so even more users can get help from the Google Assistant.

The Google Assistant on Android 5.0 Lollipop has started to roll out in to users with the language set to English in the U.S., UK, India, Australia, Canada and Singapore, as well as in Spanish in the U.S., Mexico and Spain. It’s also rolling out to users in Italy, Japan, Germany, Brazil and Korea. Once you get the update and opt-in, you’ll see an Assistant app icon in your “All apps” list.

So now the question is … What will you ask your Assistant first?


News Lab in 2017: Helping journalists use emerging technologies

13 December[ —]

This week we’re looking at the ways the Google News Lab is working with news organizations to build the future of journalism. Yesterday, we learned about how the News Lab works with newsrooms to address industry challenges. Today, we’ll take a look at how it helps the news industry take advantage of new technologies.

From Edward R. Murrow’s legendary radio broadcasts during World War II to smartphones chronicling every beat of the Arab Spring, technology has had a profound impact on how stories are discovered, told, and reach new audiences. With the pace of innovation quickening, it’s essential that news organizations understand and take advantage of today’s emerging technologies. So one of the roles of the Google News Lab is to help newsrooms and journalists learn how to put new technologies to use to shape their reporting.

This past year, our programs, trainings and research gave journalists around the world the opportunity to experiment with three important technologies: data journalism, immersive tools like VR, AR and drones, and artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

Data journalism

The availability of data has had a profound impact on journalism, fueling powerful reporting, making complicated stories easier to understand, and providing readers with actionable real-time data. To inform our work in this space, this year we commissioned a study on the state of data journalism. The research found that data journalism is increasingly mainstream, with 51 percent of news organizations across the U.S. and Europe now having a dedicated data journalist.

Our efforts to help this growing class of journalists focuses on two areas: curating Google data to fuel newsrooms’ work and building tools to make data journalism accessible.

On the curation side, we work with some of the world’s top data visualists to inspire the industry with data visualizations like Inaugurate and a Year in Language. We're particularly focused on ensuring news organizations can benefit from Google Trends data in important moments like elections. For example, we launched a Google Trends election hub for the German elections, highlighting Search interest in top political issues and parties, and worked with renowned data designer Moritz Stefaner to build a unique visualization to showcase the potential of the data to inform election coverage across European newsrooms.

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We worked with renowned designer Moritz Stefaner to build a visualization that showcased the topics and political candidates most searched in Germany during the German elections.

We’re also building tools that can help make data journalism accessible to more newsrooms. We expanded Tilegrams, a tool to create hexagon maps and other cartograms more easily, to support Germany and France in the runup to the elections in both countries. And we partnered with the data visualization design team Kiln to make Flourish, a tool that offers complex visualization templates, freely available to newsrooms and journalists.

Immersive storytelling

As new mediums of storytelling emerge, new techniques and ideas need to be developed and refined to untap the potential of these technologies for journalists. This year, we focused on two technologies that are making storytelling in journalism more compelling: virtual reality and drones.

Virtual reality
We kicked off the year by commissioning a research study to provide news organizations a better sense of how to use VR in journalism. The study found, for instance, that VR is better suited to convey an emotional impression rather than information. We looked to build on those insights by helping news organizations like Euronews and the South China Morning Post experiment with VR to create stories. And we documented best practices and learnings to share with the broader community.

We also looked to strengthen the ecosystem for VR journalism by growing Journalism 360, a group of news industry experts, practitioners and journalists dedicated to empowering experimentation in VR journalism. In 2017, J360 hosted in-person trainings on using VR in journalism from London to Austin, Hong Kong to Berlin. Alongside the Knight Foundation and the Online News Association, we provided $250,000 in grants for projects to advance the field of immersive storytelling.

Drones
The recent relaxation of regulations by the Federal Aviation Administration around drones made drones more accessible to newsrooms across the U.S., leading to growing interest in drone journalism.  Alongside the Poynter Institute and the National Press Photographers Association, we hosted four drone journalism camps across America where more than 300 journalists and photographers learned about legal, ethical and aeronautical issues of drone journalism. The camps helped inspire the use of drones in local and national news stories. Following the camps, we also hosted a leadership summit, where newsroom leaders convened to discuss key challenges on how to work together to grow this emerging field of journalism.

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A drone is being readied to capture footage across Hong Kong for the South China Morning Post’s immersive piece, “The Evolution of Hong Kong.”

Artificial intelligence

We want to help newsroom better understand and use artificial intelligence (AI), a technological development that hold tremendous promise—but also many unanswered questions. To try to get to some of the answers, we convened CTOs from the New York Times and the Associated Press to our New York office to talk about the future of AI in journalism and the challenges and opportunities it presents for newsrooms.

We also launched an experimental project with ProPublica, Documenting Hate, which uses AI to generate a national database for hate crime and bias incidents. Hate crimes in America have historically been difficult to track since there is very little official data collected at the national level. By using AI, news organizations are able to close some of the gaps in the data and begin building a national database.

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Documenting Hate, our partnership with ProPublica, used AI to help create a national database to track hate crime and bias incidents.

Finally, to ensure fairness and inclusivity in the way AI is developed and applied, we partnered with MediaShift on a Diversifying AI hackathon. The event, which convened 45 women from across the U.S., focused on coming up with solutions that help bridge gaps between AI and media.

2018 will no doubt bring more opportunity for journalists to innovate using technology. We’d love to hear from journalists about what technologies we can make more accessible and what kinds of programs or hackathons you’d like to see—let us know.


Best practices for mobile AR design

13 December[ —]

Over the past few years, many people have experienced virtual reality with headsets like Cardboard, Daydream View, and higher-end PC units like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Now, augmented reality has the potential to reach people right on their mobile devices. AR can bring information to you, and that digital information can enhance the experience you have with their physical space. However, AR is new, so creators need to think carefully when it comes to designing intuitive user interactions.

From our own explorations, we’ve learned a few things about design patterns that may be useful for creators as they consider mobile AR platforms. For this post, we revisited our learnings from designing for head-mounted displays, mobile virtual reality experiences, and depth-sensing augmented reality applications. First-party apps such as Google Earth VR and Tilt Brush allow users to explore and create with two positionally-tracked controllers. Daydream helped us understand the opportunities and constraints for designing immersive experiences for mobile. Mobile AR introduces a new set of interaction challenges. Our explorations show how we’ve attempted to adapt emerging patterns to address different physical environments and the need to hold the phone throughout an entire application session.

Key design considerations

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Mobile constraints. Achieving immersive interactions is possible through a combination of the device's camera, real-world coordinates for digital objects, and input methods of screen-touch and proximity. Since mobile AR experiences typically require at least one hand to hold the phone at all times, it's important for interactions to be discoverable, intuitive, and easy to achieve with one or no hands. The mobile device is the user’s window into the augmented world, so creators must also consider ways to make their mobile AR experiences enjoyable and usable for varying screen sizes and orientations.

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Mobile mental models and dimension-shifts. Content creators should keep in mind existing mental models of mobile AR users. 2D UI patterns, when locked to the user’s mobile screen, tend to lead to a more sedentary application experience; however, developers and designers can get creative with world-locked UI or other interaction patterns that encourage movement throughout the physical space in order to guide users toward a deeper and richer experience. The latter approach tends to be a more natural way to get users to learn and adapt to the 3D nature of their application session and more quickly begin to appreciate the value a mobile AR experience has to offer — such as observing augmented objects from many different angles.

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Environmental considerations. Each application has a dedicated "experience space," which is a combination of the physical space and range of motion the experience requires. Combined with ARCore's ability to detect varying plane sizes or overlapping planes at different elevations, this opens the door to unique volumetric responsive design opportunities that allow creators to determine how digital objects should react or scale to the constraints of the user's mobile play space. Visual cues like instructional text or character animations can direct users to move around their physical spaces in order to reinforce the context switch to AR and encourage proper environment scanning.

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Visual affordances. Advanced screen display and lighting technology makes it possible for digitally rendered objects to appear naturally in the user’s environment. Volumetric UI patterns  can complement a 3D mobile AR experience, but it’s still important that they stand out as interactive components so users get a sense of selection state and functionality. In addition to helping users interact with virtual objects in their environment, it’s important to communicate the planes that the mobile device detects in order to manage the users’ expectations for where digital items can be placed.

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Mobile AR 2D interactions. With mobile AR, we’ve seen applications of a 2D screen-locked UI which gives users a “magic-hand” pattern to engage with the virtual world via touch inputs. The ability to interact with objects from a distance can be very empowering for users. However, because of 2D UI patterns' previous association with movement-agnostic experiences, users are less likely to move around. If physical movement is a desired form of interaction, mobile AR creators can consider ways to more immediately use plane detection, digital object depth, and phone-position to motivate exploration of a volumetric space. But be wary of too much 2D UI, as it can break immersion and disconnect the user from the AR experience.

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Mobile AR immersive interactions. To achieve immersion, we focused on core mobile AR interaction mechanics ranging from object interaction, browsing, information display, and visual guidance. It's possible to optimize for readability, usability, and scale by considering ways to use a fixed position or dynamic scaling for digital objects. Using a reticle or raycast from the device is one way to understand intent and focus, and designers and developers may find it appropriate to have digital elements scale or react based on where the camera is pointing. Having characters react with an awareness to how close the user is, or revealing more information about an object as a user approaches, are a couple great examples of how creators can use proximity cues to reward exploration and encourage interaction via movement.

What’s next?

These are some early considerations for designers. Our team will be publishing guidelines for mobile AR design soon. There are so many unique problems that mobile AR can solve and so many delightful experiences it can unlock. We’re looking forward to seeing what users find compelling and sharing what we learn along the way, too. In the meantime, continue making and breaking things!

Images in this post by Chris Chamberlain


Digital News Initiative: €20 million of funding for innovation in news

13 December[ —]

In October 2015, as part of our Digital News Initiative (DNI)—a partnership between Google and news publishers in Europe to support high-quality journalism through technology and innovation—we launched the €150 million DNI Innovation Fund. Today, we’re announcing the recipients of the fourth round of funding, with 102 projects in 26 European countries being offered €20,428,091 to support news innovation projects. This brings the total funding offered so far to €94 million.

In this fourth round, we received 685 project submissions from 29 countries. Of the 102 projects funded today, 47 are prototypes (early stage projects requiring up to €50,000 of funding), 33 are medium-sized projects (requiring up to €300,000 of funding) and 22 are large projects (requiring up to €1 million of funding).

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In the last round, back in July, we saw a significant uptick in interest in fact checking projects. That trend continues in this round, especially in the prototype project category. In the medium and large categories, we encouraged applicants to focus on monetization, which led to a rise in medium and large projects seeking to use machine learning to improve content delivery and transform more readers into subscribers. Overall, 21 percent of the selected projects focus on the creation of new business models, 13 percent are about improving content discovery by using personalisation at scale. Around 37 percent of selected projects are collaborations between organizations with similar goals. Other projects include work on analytics measurement, audience development and new advertising opportunities. Here’s a sample of some of the projects funded in this round:

[Prototype] Stop Propaghate - Portugal

With €49,804 of funding from the DNI Fund, Stop Propaghate is developing an API supported by machine learning techniques that could help news media organizations 1) automatically identify if a portion of news reporting contains hate speech, and 2) predict the likelihood of a news piece to generate comments containing hate speech. The project is being developed by the Institute for Systems and Computer Engineering, Technology and Science (INESC TEC), a research & development institute located at University of Porto in Portugal.

[Medium] SPOT - France

Spot is an Artificial Intelligence-powered marketplace for curating, translating and syndicating valuable articles among independent media organizations, and is being developed by VoxEurop, a European news and debate website. With €281,291 of funding from the DNI Innovation Fund, Spot will allow publishers to easily access, buy and republish top editorial from European news organizations in their own languages, using AI data-mining technologies, summarization techniques and automatic translation technologies, alongside human content curation.

[Large] ML-based journalistic content recommendation system - Finland

Digital news media companies produce much more content than ever reaches their readers, because existing content delivery mechanisms tend to serve customers en masse, instead of individually. With €490,000 of funding from the DNI Innovation Fund, Helsingin Sanomat will develop a content recommendation system, using machine learning technologies to learn and adapt according to individual user behavior, and taking into account editorial directives.

The recipients of fourth round funding were announced at a DNI event in London, which brought together people from across the news industry to celebrate the impact of the DNI and Innovation Fund. Project teams that received funding in Rounds 1, 2 or 3 shared details of their work and demonstrated their successes in areas like local news, fact checking and monetization.

Since February 2016, we’ve evaluated more than 3,700 applications, carried out 935 interviews with project leaders, and offered 461 recipients in 29 countries a total of €94 million. It’s clear that these projects are helping to shape the future of high-quality journalism—and some of them are already directly benefiting the European public. The next application window will open in the spring. Watch out for details on the digitalnewsinitiative.com website and check out all DNI funded projects!


The Year in Search: the questions we asked in 2017

13 December[ —]

As 2017 draws to a close, it’s time to look back on the year that was with our annual Year in Search. As we do every year, we analyzed Google Trends data to see what the world was searching for.

2017 was the year we asked “how…?” How do wildfires start? How to calm a dog during a storm? How to make a protest sign? In fact, all of the “how” searches you see in the video were searched at least 10 times more this year than ever before. These questions show our shared desire to understand our experiences, to come to each other’s aid, and, ultimately, to move our world forward. 

growth of how searches over time

Many of our trending questions centered around the tragedies and disasters that touched every corner of the world. Hurricanes devastated the Caribbean, Houston and Florida. An earthquake struck Mexico City. Famine struck Somalia, and Rohingya refugees fled for safety. In these moments and others, our collective humanity shined as we asked “how to help” more than ever before.

We also searched for ways to serve our communities. People asked Google how to become police officers, paramedics, firefighters, social workers, activists, and other kinds of civil servants. Because we didn’t just want to help once, we wanted to give back year round.

Searches weren’t only related to current events—they were also a window into the things that delighted the world. “Despacito” had us dancing—and searching for its meaning. When it came to cyberslang like “tfw” and “ofc,” we were all ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. And, finally, there was slime. We searched how to make fluffy, stretchy, jiggly, sticky, and so many more kinds of slime….then we searched for how to clean slime out of carpet, and hair, and clothes.

From “how to watch the eclipse” and “how to shoot like Curry,” to “how to move forward” and “how to make a difference,” here’s to this Year in Search. To see the top trending lists from around the world, visit google.com/2017.

Search on.


Opening the Google AI China Center

13 December[ —]

Since becoming a professor 12 years ago and joining Google a year ago, I’ve had the good fortune to work with many talented Chinese engineers, researchers and technologists. China is home to many of the world's top experts in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. All three winning teams of the ImageNet Challenge in the past three years have been largely composed of Chinese researchers. Chinese authors contributed 43 percent of all content in the top 100 AI journals in 2015—and when the Association for the Advancement of AI discovered that their annual meeting overlapped with Chinese New Year this year, they rescheduled.

I believe AI and its benefits have no borders. Whether a breakthrough occurs in Silicon Valley, Beijing or anywhere else, it has the potential to make everyone’s life better for the entire world. As an AI first company, this is an important part of our collective mission. And we want to work with the best AI talent, wherever that talent is, to achieve it.

That’s why I am excited to launch the Google AI China Center, our first such center in Asia, at our Google Developer Days event in Shanghai today. This Center joins other AI research groups we have all over the world, including in New York, Toronto, London and Zurich, all contributing towards the same goal of finding ways to make AI work better for everyone.

Focused on basic AI research, the Center will consist of a team of AI researchers in Beijing, supported by Google China’s strong engineering teams. We’ve already hired some top experts, and will be working to build the team in the months ahead (check our jobs site for open roles!). Along with Dr. Jia Li, Head of Research and Development at Google Cloud AI, I’ll be leading and coordinating the research. Besides publishing its own work, the Google AI China Center will also support the AI research community by funding and sponsoring AI conferences and workshops, and working closely with the vibrant Chinese AI research community.

Humanity is going through a huge transformation thanks to the phenomenal growth of computing and digitization. In just a few years, automatic image classification in photo apps has become a standard feature. And we’re seeing rapid adoption of natural language as an interface with voice assistants like Google Home. At Cloud, we see our enterprise partners using AI to transform their businesses in fascinating ways at an astounding pace. As technology starts to shape human life in more profound ways, we will need to work together to ensure that the AI of tomorrow benefits all of us. 

The Google AI China Center is a small contribution to this goal. We look forward to working with the brightest AI researchers in China to help find solutions to the world’s problems. 

Once again, the science of AI has no borders, neither do its benefits.


A look at Team Drives in action at the California Academy of Sciences

12 December[ —]

Located in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, the California Academy of Sciences is an aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum all wrapped into one. Attracting visitors from all over the world, the California Academy of Sciences aims to explore, explain, and sustain life on Earth. In addition to biodiversity research and conservation efforts, they offer a large variety of exhibits to educate visitors about wildlife, ecosystems, and the sustainability of our planet.

The California Academy of Sciences uses G Suite and other Google products to help employees collaborate, onboard new team members effectively, manage data for science-based animal care, and schedule upcoming physicals and treatments for live animals. Recently, they migrated all their digital data to Team Drives, a G Suite for Nonprofits tool that lets organizations store, search, and access shared content from anywhere. In Team Drives, files belong to the team instead of the individual, so users won’t need to search across siloed folders with varying permissions. Since implementing this change, the California Academy of Sciences has been able to reduce time spent searching for documents, limit duplication of efforts, and collaborate more closely with their team members and other organizations internationally. We spoke with Associate Director of the Steinhart Aquarium (and Google super user), Laurie Patel, who successfully migrated 15 years of digital data to Team Drives in just one evening, to learn more about how they're using the tool.

Penguins

Three endangered African Penguins on exhibit at the California Academy of Sciences. The penguin on the left is a juvenile hatched at the Academy as a part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan.

Better animal health management through unlimited storage

The initial reasoning behind the transition to Team Drives was unlimited storage. Because of the massive amounts of animal medical data that must be stored, the aquarium team needs space to upload all the PDFs, images, videos, and spreadsheets that they collect. All medical data gets logged, like each animal’s annual physicals, blood work, pictures, weight, and other diagnostics. With 38,000 live animals at the California Academy of Sciences, it’s easy to see how the virtual file cabinet of data in their systems could start to overflow. With Team Drives, Laurie’s team can upload all the images and data they collect so that it’s accessible in one place, all the time—without relying on an individual owner to have sole access. And with Team Drives’ permissions settings, they share and link these folders to the external Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS) database. That database connects with zoos and aquariums across the world so researchers can cross-reference each species’ baseline health reports. Being able to upload large files to this database has increased both the California Academy of Sciences’ and the ZIMS accumulated knowledge of medical data to ensure all animals are treated properly and receive the best possible care and enrichment.

Everything you need to know is right there in Team Drives. Laurie Patel
Associate Director of Steinhart Aquarium

Real-time updates to support strict protocols for animal safety

Caring for a diverse animal collection in varied habitats, like the four-story Osher Rainforest exhibit or the 212,000 gallon Philippine Coral Reef exhibit, requires California Academy of Sciences’ staff to adhere to strict protocols to ensure a consistently high standard of animal care. To ensure stable environments, all processes need to be executed in a specific way—and this critical information has to be readily accessible to staff and always up to date. From changing an animal’s diet to venomous animal handling protocols, employees routinely search and access these procedures and databases to make real-time decisions. For example, water is collected daily from separate tanks to check the water quality and test things like pH levels and magnesium concentration. Employees input this data into Google Sheets, and conditional formatting automatically attributes a color code based on each test result—an easy and instantaneous visual indication to inform what action is needed for the employees back at the tank.

We use data-driven responses for science based animal care. And utilizing Google’s collaboration tools for all this data is how we’re able to do this. Laurie Patel
Associate Director of the Steinhart Aquarium

Streamlined onboarding = more time for animals

By consolidating all training materials and important resources in one place, the Steinhart Aquarium team can onboard new members to the team quickly and efficiently. This helps the team prepare for legacy planning as well. When one teammate leaves, their successor can easily take ownership of all the files and resume where the former employee left off, ensuring that no work is lost in the transfer. And by linking to various Team Drives folders in their online hub powered by Google Sites, they’ve created a one-stop-shop to guide team members to the right information at the right time.

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The Reef Lagoon exhibit showcases the interrelationships of mangrove, lagoon and reef habitats found in the Philippines, an ecosystem researched by the biologists and scientists at the California Academy of Sciences.

Ultimately, Team Drives help California Academy of Sciences operate without fear of lost data or out-of-date sharing preferences. This extra time saved allows employees to spend more time caring for a charismatic group of live animals and engaging with the museum’s visitors, rather than their screens. Learn how Team Drives can help your organization and get started today.


News Lab in 2017: working with news organizations to address industry challenges

12 December[ —]

Editor’s Note: This week we’re looking at the ways the Google News Lab is working with news organizations to build the future of journalism. This is the first in a four-part series.

2017 was a critical time for both the news and technology industries. The battle against misinformation, rapidly-changing business models for news organizations and fundamental questions about the relationship between journalism and technology have made Google’s role in supporting quality journalism as important as it’s ever been. We started the Google News Lab in 2015 to work alongside newsrooms to navigate those issues and build a stronger future for news.

No single technology, platform or partnership will solve every challenge the news industry faces, so we’ve focused on using our resources and technology to help newsrooms and journalists try new things. Three of the biggest challenges we focused on in 2017 were trust and misinformation, inclusive storytelling and local news. Today, we’ll provide detail on how we approached those challenges—and to ensure we’re tackling the right ones in the future, we’d love to hear feedback and new ideas.

Trust and misinformation

Though it's been a focus since we founded the News Lab, curbing the spread of misinformation and helping people understand what content they can trust has become even more important this year, in light of events across the world. Our efforts to fight misinformation focus on three key groups—platforms, newsrooms and consumers.

Platforms: Google has launched a number of features to prevent the spread of misinformation on our platforms, and News Lab has built partnerships to strengthen those efforts.

Newsrooms: Discovering and debunking misinformation is a daunting task for any newsroom, but we’re encouraged by a new generation of organizations developing methods to meet this challenge.

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  • We helped start the First Draft coalition of digital media verification experts to combine efforts and share best practices with newsrooms everywhere. This year, they produced “A Field Guide to Fake News,” a playbook on how newsrooms can fight misinformation. Their recent report “Information Disorder” offers an excellent approach for understanding and grappling with misinformation.
  • Along with hundreds of news organizations around the world, we created pop-up newsrooms to discover and debunk fake news stories and provide readers with accurate information during the U.K., French and German elections. Early research shows that this is working, and the effort in France received an ONA award for helping build a blueprint for verification around key moments. We plan to continue these experiments in 2018, and we’re developing tools and training on how our products can help in this area.
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Journalists from across France undergo training in verifying online content in run-up to French election.

Consumers: In an age of information overload, we need to do more to help news consumers distinguish fact from fiction. Recent research out of Stanford suggests that news consumers—even young, tech-savvy students—struggle with parsing the difference between accurate and false claims. To help people develop skills to navigate news in a digital age, we launched a news literacy program in Canada, which we’re looking to expand in the coming year. We’re also working with our product teams to ensure our platforms help news consumers understand how to judge the credibility of content online, building on features like the publisher knowledge panel.


Inclusive storytelling

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This visualization from Polygraph shows how U.S. newsrooms have changed since 2001, according to ASNE’s survey data.

In order for newsrooms to serve their readers and uncover the most important stories in their communities, they need to reflect the diversity of their markets. But this remains a challenge: in a survey we produced with the American Society of News Editors, we found that diversity in U.S. newsrooms hasn’t improved much over time. For instance, men still make up 63 percent of newsrooms in the U.S.

So we’ve focused our energy on partnerships to empower journalists from a diverse range of backgrounds and communities. We’re working with Maynard Institute to support 200 people of color in media, and we backed the Street School in France and the Hamburg media school in Germany to train young journalists from underprivileged backgrounds. We’ve also created fellowships and programs to give diverse journalists new opportunities, with groups like NCTJ Journalism Diversity Fund and Neue Deutsche Medienmacher.


We also think technology can play an important role in understanding bias in news. In 2016 Google.org, USC and the Geena Davis Institute used machine learning to create a tool that identified gender distribution in Hollywood. We’re building on this work to explore how newsrooms can apply the same technology to better understand representation in news coverage.


Local news

Local newsrooms have been hit hard by the shift to digital, with revenue pressures causing local newsrooms to shrink—or worse, close down. Through a partnership with the Society for Professional Journalists, we’ve trained more than 9,500 local reporters across America on essential skills, from multimedia storytelling to safety and security, in the last year. And our partnership with the Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal Labs gave local journalists in Mississippi and New Jersey the resources to experiment on new models for investigative reporting.  


We’re looking at new models for strengthening the local news ecosystem, through initiatives like Report for America, which will place a thousand journalists in local newsrooms in the next five years. Over the next six months, we’ll pilot the program in 12 local newsrooms in areas underserved by local news media.

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Feedback from journalists and others in the industry is important to our efforts. We’d love your feedback, which you can share through this form. In our next post, we’ll talk about how we’re helping news organizations navigate new technologies—like virtual reality, data visualizations and machine learning—in their newsrooms.


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