Thursday, May 29, 2008

Continued from Yesterday (day 1): Rough notes from Selected Sessions at Google IO Day 1.


Marissa Mayer Keynote: A Glimpse Under the Hood at Google

·         Showed iGoogle and talked about how Google Gadgets are a great way to get broad distribution and are a form of advertising.

·         Search is number 2 most used application (after email)

·         The ordinary and the everyday

·         Why is search page so simple?

·         Variation of Occam’s Razor: “the simple design is probably right”

·         Sergey did it and it was because “there was nobody else to do it and he doesn’t do HTML”

·         Described process of answering a query (700 to 1,000 machines in .16 seconds):

·         This time of day we’re busy so the query will likely go to one data center and likely get bounced to another (must be a simplification of what really happens – load ballancing)

·         Mixer

·         Google Web Server

·         Ads + Websearch (300 to 400 systems)

·         Back to mixer

·         Back to Web server

·         Back to load balancer

·         Split A/B Testing:

·         We given a subset of users a different user experience. Web services allow very detailed views and to iterate very quickly and evolve rapidly.

·         Example: amount of white space under Google logo on results page?

·         This test showed convincingly that less white space rather than more (produces more usage and more revenue)

·         Example: yellow or blue as background for paid adds

·         Yellow produced both more satisfaction and more revenue.

·         “If you don’t listen to your customers, someone else will” – Sam Walton

·         But you need to test rather than ask since they often don’t know.

·         Example: would you like 10, 20, or 30 results. Users unanimously wanted 30.

·         But 10 did way better in A/B testing (30 was 20% worse) due to lower latency of 10 results

·         30 is about twice the latency of 10 (I would have expected the other overheads to dominate.  Suggests there is another solution waiting to be found here).

·         Example: Maps was 120k for launch page.  We took 30 to 40k out.  Got a proportional increase in usage.

·         Example: Google Video uploads used to be 1 day to watch while YouTube offered “Watch it now”.  Much more compelling.

·         Urgent can drown out important

·         Users go from unskilled to skilled searchers very fast (under 1 month).  Consequently it’s better to optimize for expert since most are and novices get there fast due to fast feedback loop.

·         The lesson is to think longer term at all levels in design.

·         Think beyond the current development horizon.  10 years for major products and services.

·         Example: Universal search vs vertical search.  Users want verticals now but what they really want is universal search.  They just want to find the answer they are searching for.

·         Goog-411: don’t know if we can make money off this but it helps us develop voice recognition. Applications of voice recognition are monetizable so, even if Goog-411 doesn’t yield revenue, other applications will.

·         International content:

·         50% of the web is English but only aobut 1% of the web is Arabic

·         Conclusion: take an Arabic search, translate find relevant pages, then translate the result.  Opens up MUCH more content and dramatically improves the results for an Arabic user.

·         Larry Paige: ”A Healthy Disrespect for the Impossible” opens up many possibilities.

·         Showed examples of how search is not generally “solvable” but getting to 90 to 95% has HUGE benefit. Search is a hard and unconstrained problem.  Same with health records.

·         Recommendation: Be Scrappy & revel in constraints

·         Google operates in 140 countries and 110 languages.  Described the complexity of pulling out text strings from a web site, sending out to translation, dealing with multiple string versions, etc.

·         Betters solution: let the users help with the translated content.  If you don’t see your language, help us do it.  There are now ¼ million users helping with translation from all over the world.

·         Interesting little Easter egg:  one of the languages on the Google home page is “Bork! Bork! Bork!” – it’s the Swedish chef from the Muppets

·         Interesting little example: they took 11k Googler’s to Indiana Jones last week

·         Marissa went through a bunch of examples of taking on the impossible and brainstorming possible solutions and showing that some just exercised their thinking and others produced cool products/solutions.  Explained that 20% time is just another way of exercising the brain (“Imagination as a muscle”).  And Orkut, Google News, and during one period 50% of their new products, were from 20% time.

·         Random note: What you last searched for is the best context signal for the current search.


James Hamilton, Windows Live Platform Services
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Thursday, May 29, 2008 8:59:35 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [0] - Trackback
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