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News Lab in 2017: the year in review

Category: Google | Dec 15, 2017

In the news and technology communities, the collective sense of urgency about the future of journalism reached new heights this year. Never before has the press been so important—or so under threat. Technology and platforms like the ones Google has built present extraordinary opportunities to strengthen journalism, but they require newsrooms and tech companies working closely together to get it right. That’s why the Google News Lab exists.

In a Keyword series this week, we’ve shared the work the News Lab is doing around the world to address industry challenges and take advantage of new technologies. Today, in our final post in this series, we’re stepping back to give a holistic view of 10 major developments in our work this last year. We’re looking forward to an even bigger 2018 and would love your feedback on how we can partner with the industry to build a stronger future for news.

1. Combating misinformation in European elections

The spread of misinformation is a growing problem for open societies everywhere. So, helping news organizations confront that challenge—especially during elections—was a key focus for us. We helped the First Draft Coalition pioneer new collaborative reporting models to combat misinformation and verify news stories during the UK, French, and German elections.

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2. Helping users identify trustworthy news content on Google

We worked closely with the news industry to better highlight accurate, quality content on our platforms with new product features and partnerships. Along with the Trust Project, we produced eight indicators of trust that newsrooms can add to their content to help users distinguish between quality content and misinformation. We also partnered with the International Fact-Checking Network and The Poynter Institute to increase the number of verified fact checkers across the world.  

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3. Empowering underrepresented voices

Bringing underrepresented voices into newsrooms can help uncover important stories that are left out of mainstream news coverage. We supported ASNE’s survey to get a better sense of diversity in newsrooms across the U.S. We also partnered with organizations in the U.S., Brazil, France and Germany to provide journalists from diverse backgrounds with in-depth programs to develop their careers.

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4. Strengthening local news

With revenue pressures challenging the creation of quality local news content, we began investing in projects to strengthen local newsrooms across the U.S. We partnered with the Society for Professional Journalists to train more than 9,000 local reporters in digital skills. We’re also supporting Report for America, an initiative that will use a Teach for America model to place a thousand journalists in local newsrooms over the next five years.

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5. Researching key challenges in journalism

To better understand key challenges facing the news industry, we produced studies on the state of data journalism in 2017 and how audiences experience VR and what it means for journalists. We also supported the ICFJ’s newsroom study on the usage of technology in newsrooms.

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6. Working with newsrooms to experiment on new technology

From drones to virtual reality, we helped news organizations understand and use emerging technologies to shape their reporting and engage audiences in new ways. And we experimented with machine learning, too—we partnered with ProPublica to launch Documenting Hate, a project which uses AI to help build a national database for hate crime and bias incidents.   

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7. Building tools for data journalism

Our research into the state of data journalism found that while half of newsrooms have a dedicated data journalist, many lack the tools and resources to be successful. So we built a number of tools—Flourish, Tilegrams, Data Gif Maker, Election Databot— to make data journalism more accessible to newsrooms and journalists across the world.

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8. Training journalists across the world in digital skills

With our online training center, advanced online learning partnerships, and in-person trainings, we helped train more than 500,000  journalists across the world in digital tools and skills for storytelling and reporting. To develop the next generation of digital journalists, we offered more than 50 News Lab Fellowships with major news organizations across 12 countries.

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9. Helping newsrooms use Google Trends data to support elections coverage

Google Trends data offers news organizations a look at the candidates and issues that voters are interested in during election season. In Germany, we created a Google Trends Hub to show users’ search interest in key candidates and built a visualization tool to bring the data to life. In France, we launched a data driven web app that showed search interest in the candidates over time.

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10. Expanding the News Lab to Brazil and Asia

This year we launched the News Lab in two new markets: Brazil and in Asia. To kick things off we held inaugural News Lab Summits in both regions—convening journalists from 15 states in Brazil and journalists from 15 countries in Singapore. Since then, we’ve trained more than 8,000 journalists in Brazil and 12,000 journalists in Asia.

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It’s an exciting time for journalism. There are many challenges, but we are eager to work with the news industry to build a more informed world. Tell us where you think we should put our efforts—we’d love to hear feedback and new ideas.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/jGwFTFZW7FU/

Google and Gallup’s computer science education research: six things to know

Category: Google | Dec 15, 2017

Maru Ahues Bouza, an Engineering Manager at Google, wouldn’t be where she is today without her father’s encouragement to learn computer science (CS). Growing up in Venezuela, there were no CS classes for children, so when Maru was just 10 years old, her father enrolled her and her sister in an adult CS class. At first, the girls showed little interest, but with steady support from their father, Maru and her sister became the top performers in the class. Maru continued with CS, graduating from Universidad Simón Bolívar with a Computer Engineering degree. Maru says that she couldn’t have learned CS without her father’s confidence: “if you’re taught from a young age that you can definitely do it, you’re going to grow up knowing you can be successful.”

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Maru, on the left, as a child with her sister and father.

Our latest research confirms that this type of support and encouragement is indeed critical. In partnership with Gallup, today we are releasing a new research brief, Encouraging Students Toward Computer Science Learning, and a set of CS education reports for 43 U.S. states. Here are the top six things you should know about the research:

  1. Students who have been encouraged by a teacher or parent are three times more likely to be interested in learning CS.
  2. Boys are nearly two times as likely as girls to report that a parent has told them they would be good at CS.
  3. At age 12, there is no difference in interest in CS between boys and girls. However, the gap widens from age 12 to 14, when 47% of boys are very interested, but only 12% of girls express interest.
  4. Across Black, Hispanic, and White students, girls are less likely to be interested in learning CS compared to boys, with the biggest gap between Black girls (15% interested) and Black boys (44% interested). 
  5. Students are more likely to learn CS in suburban areas (61%) than in rural areas (53%). Regionally, CS is most prevalent in the South or Northeast, where 57% of students are likely to learn CS.
  6. Principals perceive mixed parent and school board support for CS, and top barriers to offering CS include minimal budget for teachers and lack of trained teachers, as well as competing priorities for standardized testing and college requirements.

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Simple words of support can help more kids like Maru learn CS, no matter who they are or where they live. It’s not hard to encourage students, but we often don’t do so unless a student shows explicit interest. So this winter break, read the research about CS education and take a few minutes to encourage a student to create something using computer science, like coding their own Google logo. This encouragement could spark a student’s lifelong interest in computer science, just like it did for Maru.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/Qo2JnPOQKRA/

ARCore Developer Preview 2

Category: Google | Dec 15, 2017

Augmented reality is a powerful way to bring the physical and digital worlds together. AR places digital objects and useful information into the real world around us, which creates a huge opportunity to make our phones more intuitive, more helpful and a whole lot more fun.

We’ve been working on augmented reality since 2014, with our earliest investments in Project Tango. We’ve taken everything we learned from that to build ARCore, which launched in preview earlier this year. Whereas Tango required special hardware, ARCore is a fast, performant, Android-scale SDK that enables high-quality augmented reality across millions of qualified mobile devices.

Developers can experiment with ARCore now, and we’ve seen some amazing creations from the community. ARCore also powers AR Stickers on the Pixel camera, which launched earlier this week and lets you add interactive AR characters and playful emojis directly into photos and videos to bring your favorite stories to life.

Today, we’re releasing an update to our ARCore Developer Preview with several technical improvements to the SDK, including:

  • A new C API for use with the Android NDK that complements our existing Java, Unity, and Unreal SDKs;

  • Functionality that lets AR apps pause and resume AR sessions, for example to let a user return to an AR app after taking a phone call;

  • Improved accuracy and runtime efficiency across our anchor, plane finding, and point cloud APIs.

To learn more about the SDK updates, check out the Android, Unity, and Unreal Github pages.

As we focus on bringing augmented reality to the entire Android ecosystem with ARCore, we’re turning down support of Tango. Thank you to our incredible community of developers who made such progress with Tango over the last three years. We look forward to continuing the journey with you on ARCore.

If you’re a developer interested in AR, now’s the time to start experimenting. In the coming months, we’ll launch ARCore v1.0, with support for over 100 million devices. And soon, many augmented reality experiences will be available in the Play Store. We can’t wait to see what you create.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/vf4p1Cf617Q/

5 ways to improve your hiring process in 2018

Category: Google | Dec 14, 2017

Editor’s note: Senior Product Manager Berit Hoffmann leads Hire, a recruiting application Google launched earlier this year. In this post, she shares five ways businesses can improve their hiring process and secure great talent.

With 2018 quickly approaching, businesses are evaluating their hiring needs for the new year.

According to a recent survey of 2,200 hiring managers, 46 percent of U.S. companies need to hire more people but have issues filling open positions with the right candidates. If your company lacks great hiring processes and tools, it can be easy to make sub-optimal hiring decisions, which can have negative repercussions.

We built Hire to help businesses hire the right talent more efficiently, and integrated it with G Suite to help teams collaborate more effectively throughout the process. As your business looks to invest in talent next year, here are five ways to positively impact your hiring outcomes.

1. Define the hiring process for each role.

Take time to define each stage of the hiring process, and think about if and how the process may need to differ. This will help you better tailor your evaluation of each candidate to company expectations, as well as the qualifications of a particular role.

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Earlier this year, Google reviewed a subset of its own interview data to discover the optimal number of interviews needed in the hiring process to evaluate whether a candidate is right for Google. Statistical analysis showed that four interviews was enough to predict with 86 percent confidence whether someone should be hired. Of course, every company’s hiring process varies according to size, role or industry—some businesses require double that number of interviews, whereas others may only need one interview.

Using Hire to manage your recruiting activities allows you to configure as many hiring process “templates” as you’d like, as well as use different ones for different roles. For example, you might vary the number of interview rounds based on department. Whatever process you define, you can bring all candidate activity and interactions together within Hire. Plus, Hire integrates with G Suite apps, like Gmail and Calendar, to help you coordinate the process.

2. Make jobs discoverable on Google Search.

For many businesses, sourcing candidates is one of the most time-consuming parts of the hiring process, so Google launched Job Search to help employers better showcase job opportunities in search. Since launching, 60 percent more employers show jobs in search in the United States.

Making your open positions discoverable where people are searching is an important part of attracting the best talent. If you use Hire to post a job, the app automatically formats your public job posting so it is discoverable by job seekers in Google search.

3. Make sure you get timely feedback from interviewers.

The sooner an interviewer provides feedback, the faster your hiring team can reach a decision, which improves the candidate’s experience. To help speed up feedback submissions, some companies like Genius.com use a “silent process” approach. This means interviewers are not allowed to discuss a candidate until they submit written feedback first.

Hire supports this “silent process” approach by hiding other people’s feedback from interviewers until they submit their own. We’ve found that this can incentivize employees to submit feedback faster because they want to see what their colleagues said. 63 percent of Hire interviewers leave feedback within 24 hours of an interview and 75 percent do so within 48 hours.

4. Make sure their feedback is thoughtful, too.

Beyond speedy feedback delivery, it’s perhaps more important to receive quality evaluations. Make sure your interviewers know how to write clear feedback and try to avoid common mistakes such as:

  1. Writing vague statements or summarizing a candidate’s resume.
  2. Restating information from rubrics or questionnaires rather than giving specific  examples.
  3. Getting distracted by personality or evaluating attributes unrelated to the job.

One way you can encourage employees to stay focused when they interview a candidate. is to assign them a specific topic to cover in the interview. In Hire, topics are included in each interviewer’s Google Calendar invitation for easy reference without having to log into the app.

Maintaining a high standard for written feedback helps your team not only make hiring decisions today, but also helps you track candidates for future consideration. Even if you don’t hire someone for a particular role, the person might be a better fit for another position down the road. In Hire, you can find candidates easily with Google’s powerful search technology. Plus, Hire takes past interview feedback into account and ranks previous candidates higher if they’ve had positive feedback.

5. Stop letting internal processes slow you down.

If you don’t manage your hiring process effectively, it can be a huge time sink, especially as employers take longer and longer to hire talent. If your business lags on making a decision, it can mean losing a great candidate.

Implementing a solution like Hire can make it a lot easier for companies to move quickly through the hiring process. Native integrations with the G Suite apps you’re already using can help you cut down on copy-pasting or having to jump between multiple tabs. If you email a candidate in Gmail, it’s automatically synced in Hire so the rest of the hiring team can follow the conversation. And if you need to schedule a multi-slot interview, you can do so easily in Hire which lets you access interviewer availability or even book conference rooms. Since launching in July, we’ve seen the average time between posting a position and hiring a candidate decrease from 128 days to just 21 days (3 weeks!).

Hiring doesn’t have to be hard. Request a demo of Hire to see how you can speed up talent acquisition. Or learn more about how G Suite can help your teams transform the way they work.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/SfsK5v1tdyg/

Earth to exoplanet: Hunting for planets with machine learning

Category: Google | Dec 14, 2017

For thousands of years, people have looked up at the stars, recorded observations, and noticed patterns. Some of the first objects early astronomers identified were planets, which the Greeks called “planētai,” or “wanderers,” for their seemingly irregular movement through the night sky. Centuries of study helped people understand that the Earth and other planets in our solar system orbit the sun—a star like many others.

Today, with the help of technologies like telescope optics, space flight, digital cameras, and computers, it’s possible for us to extend our understanding beyond our own sun and detect planets around other stars. Studying these planets—called exoplanets—helps us explore some of our deepest human inquiries about the universe. What else is out there? Are there other planets and solar systems like our own?

Though technology has aided the hunt, finding exoplanets isn’t easy. Compared to their host stars, exoplanets are cold, small and dark—about as tricky to spot as a firefly flying next to a searchlight … from thousands of miles away. But with the help of machine learning, we’ve recently made some progress.

One of the main ways astrophysicists search for exoplanets is by analyzing large amounts of data from NASA’s Kepler mission with both automated software and manual analysis. Kepler observed about 200,000 stars for four years, taking a picture every 30 minutes, creating about 14 billion data points. Those 14 billion data points translate to about 2 quadrillion possible planet orbits! It’s a huge amount of information for even the most powerful computers to analyze, creating a laborious, time-intensive process. To make this process faster and more effective, we turned to machine learning.

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The measured brightness of a star decreases ever so slightly when an orbiting planet blocks some of the light. The Kepler space telescope observed the brightness of 200,000 stars for 4 years to hunt for these characteristic signals caused by transiting planets.

Machine learning is a way of teaching computers to recognize patterns, and it’s particularly useful in making sense of large amounts of data. The key idea is to let a computer learn by example instead of programming it with specific rules.

I’m a Google AI researcher with an interest in space, and started this work as a 20 percent project (an opportunity at Google to work on something that interests you for 20 percent of your time). In the process, I reached out to Andrew, an astrophysicist from UT Austin, to collaborate. Together, we took this technique to the skies and taught a machine learning system how to identify planets around faraway stars.

Using a dataset of more than 15,000 labeled Kepler signals, we created a TensorFlow model to distinguish planets from non-planets. To do this, it had to recognize patterns caused by actual planets, versus patterns caused by other objects like starspots and binary stars. When we tested our model on signals it had never seen before, it correctly identified which signals were planets and which signals were not planets 96 percent of the time. So we knew it worked!

Kepler 90i is the eighth planet discovered orbiting the Kepler 90 star, making it the first known 8-planet system outside of our own.

Armed with our working model, we shot for the stars, using it to hunt for new planets in Kepler data. To narrow the search, we looked at the 670 stars that were already known to host two or more exoplanets. In doing so, we discovered two new planets: Kepler 80g and Kepler 90i. Significantly, Kepler 90i is the eighth planet discovered orbiting the Kepler 90 star, making it the first known 8-planet system outside of our own.

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We used 15,000 labeled Kepler signals to train our machine learning model to identify planet signals. We used this model to hunt for new planets in data from 670 stars, and discovered two planets missed in previous searches.

Some fun facts about our newly discovered planet: it’s 30 percent larger than Earth, and with a surface temperature of approximately 800°F—not ideal for your next vacation. It also orbits its star every 14 days, meaning you’d have a birthday there just about every two weeks.

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Kepler 90 is the first known 8-planet system outside of our own. In this system, planets orbit closer to their star, and Kepler 90i orbits once every 14 days. (Note that planet sizes and distances from stars are not to scale.)

The sky is the limit (so to speak) when it comes to the possibilities of this technology. So far, we’ve only used our model to search 670 stars out of 200,000. There may be many exoplanets still unfound in Kepler data, and new ideas and techniques like machine learning will help fuel celestial discoveries for many years to come. To infinity, and beyond!

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/o7_C9lXX8RE/

Local businesses bring in new customers with Posts on Google

Category: Google | Dec 14, 2017

Seven out of ten customers visit a business or make a purchase based on info they found online1. With Posts on Google, businesses can share these timely updates right where people find your business on Search and Maps.

Creative posts help a new restaurant become a local hit

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Igor Chang founded HAO Restaurant and Bar to bring Asian dishes to his beachside neighborhood in João Pessoa, Brazil. HAO keeps its doors open until 3AM, drawing customers for dinner and a night on the town.

Igor uses Google Posts to get more reservations by sharing discounts on sushi, photos of cocktail specials, and links to videos of HAO’s live jazz band.

In just three months, Igor’s posts received more than 5,000 views. He’s noticed an increase in reservations and often hears customers mention his latest posts.

Mobile-friendly Posts bring visitors to a thrilling destination

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Ramoji Film City is the backdrop for some of India’s biggest films, but it’s also a destination itself, where tourists can explore film sets, stay in luxury hotels, and see live performances.

When T Prasad joined the team at Ramoji Film City, he discovered that 80% of their customers found their business info on mobile devices. So he started sharing mobile-friendly posts with photos of Ramoji’s amusement park and other attractions.

After one month of posting on Google, Prasad saw a 20% increase in website pageviews. He also noticed a jump in calls from people who are excited to visit Ramoji Film City.

A candy shop satisfies their community’s sweet tooth

Raul Vega discovered that Mexican families in his Los Angeles neighborhood wanted to share the candies they loved as kids with their own children in the U.S. So he opened Dulceria Dulfi Mexican Candy Store, which carries sweets from De La Rosa triple-layer marzipan and peanut butter candies to Vero Manitas hand-shaped lollipops.

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Raul uses Posts to share popular candies, seasonal specials and new arrivals with his customers online.

Since he started posting this summer, Raul has seen an average of seven  new customers each week. Those customers make a big difference for his business. Posts also help him track which candies get the most attention, so he can update future orders for his shop.

Posting on Google is a way to share relevant, fresh content with people who search for businesses like yours online. Start posting and reach new customers through your Google listing today.

1Google/Ipsos Connect, “Benefits of a Complete Google My Business Listing,” October 2016. A total of N=15,904 adults 18-64, Google search or maps users, recent category purchasers (Bakery/Sweet shop, Auto, Spa/Hairdresser, Clothing, Bookstore/Logistics) in India, Australia, Germany, Turkey and the U.S.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/PqEUGL9cKwI/

News Lab in 2017: Our work around the world

Category: Google | Dec 14, 2017

This week we’re looking at how the Google News Lab is working with news organizations to build the future of journalism. So far, we shared how the News Lab works with newsrooms to address industry challenges and use emerging technologies. Today, we’ll take a look at the News Lab’s global footprint and its efforts to fuel innovation in newsrooms across the world.

Technology continues to change how journalists across the world report and tell stories. But how technology shapes journalism varies from region to region. This past year our team, the Google News Lab, conducted in-person trainings for journalists across 52 countries. Today, we take a look at the unique challenges of newsrooms in the regions we serve and how we’ve adapted our mission for each region to help build the future of journalism.

Europe

In Europe, it’s been another big year for politics with major general elections taking place in the Netherlands, France, UK, Germany and Norway. We wanted to ensure we were helping newsrooms cover these critical moments with the accuracy and depth they required. So, our efforts across these countries focused on helping newsrooms verify digital content in a timely fashion and providing training in digital skills for journalists.

  • We helped the First Draft Coalition pioneer new collaborative reporting models to combat misinformation and verify news stories during the UKFrench, and German elections. In France, we supported First Draft’s launch of CrossCheck; a collaboration among 37 newsrooms to verify or debunk online stories during the election. In the build up to the elections in the UK and Germany, we also supported fact-checking organizations Full Fact and Correctiv to help newsrooms identify new sources of information. These initiatives helped more than 500 European journalists verify content online and debunk 267 inaccurate stories shared on social during the French and German elections. 
  • Journalists across Europe used Google Trends to help visualize big political stories—here’s a peek at what they did. 

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Journalists attending the European Journalism Centre News Impact Summit in Manchester, UK.

  • We continued to ramp up our efforts to train European journalists digital skills. We worked with The European Journalism Centre on the latest series of the News Impact Summit, providing large-scale training events on news gathering and storytelling, combined with design-thinking workshops for journalists in Rome, Hamburg, Budapest, Manchester and Brussels. And our partnership with Netzwerk Medien-Trainer has provided over a thousand journalists across northern Europe with expert training on data journalism, verification and mapping.

Asia Pacific

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Journalists from across Asia attend a session at our first News Lab Summit in APAC.

This year, we expanded our training and programs to the  Asia Pacific, where we’ve tailored our approach to meet the specific needs of journalists across this diverse landscape. In a part of the world that is largely mobile-first (or mobile-only) and chat apps are the norm, there are a unique set of opportunities and challenges for newsrooms.

  • In July, our first News Lab APAC Summit welcomed 180 guests from 150 news organizations across 15 countries to our offices in Singapore. Product specialists and experts from newsrooms across the region came together to share best practices, learn about emerging technologies, and engage in open dialogue on challenges critical to the news industry.
  • In India, our Teaching Fellow has provided training and support to around 4K journalists and journalism students across the country. Our partnership with the Digital Identities team helped journalists in New Delhi experiment and engage new audiences with their stories.
  • Working in partnership with News Lab, the South China Morning Post released an immersive virtual reality project to depict the changing landscape of Hong Kong over 170 years of history.
  • We’re working to support research projects that tackle industry challenges – working with Media Diversity Australia to quantify issues of diversity and representation in the Australian news organizations, while in South Korea we’re supporting a study about the use of chat apps and their role in the news ecosystem.

Latin America

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Journalists from across Brazil gathered for an open conversation on the future of news at our first News Lab Summit in Brazil.

Working with journalists across Latin America, we elevated new voices beyond traditional newsrooms, and helped established journalists experiment with new technology and research. In Brazil alone there are an estimated 139 million Internet users, providing a huge opportunity for news organizations to experiment and test new formats.

  • We hosted the first Google News Lab Summit in LatAm Google’s HQ in São Paulo, which convened 115 journalists from across Brazil. Attendees from 71 organizations heard from product managers and industry experts about data journalism, immersive storytelling and verification.
  • Impacto.jo, an experimental project in Brazil supported by the News Lab, helps journalists track the social impact of their reporting. As a part of the project, six organizations including Nexo JornalFolha de S. PauloVejaGazeta do PovoNova Escola and Projor will each track the public response and social reaction to their stories. 
  • In Brazil, we brought 300 journalists to a first-of-its-kind independent journalism festival in Rio de Janeiro to share ideas on how to engage audiences online with original journalism.
  • Our Teaching Fellows based in Buenos Aires and Mexico City have travelled beyond Argentina and Mexico to provide 75 workshops in Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico and Uruguay

Middle East & Africa

We are focused on the growing number of mobile phone users, providing trainings for journalists on digital integration, as it remains a challenge in this part of the world.

  • We’re working with Code for Africa and the World Bank to provide training to six thousand journalists across 12 major African cities. Their online learning course will provide self-paced lessons for journalists across Africa. They’re also working to support local Hacks/Hackers meetings to bring journalists and developers together to share new ideas.
  • In South Africa, we held a GEN Editors Lab hackathon, in association with Code for Africa, that brought together 35 developers and journalists to tackle a range of topics including misinformation. This builds on our support for previous events in Nigeria. We’ll be taking the hackathons to Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Italy, Ireland, Portugal and Taiwan.

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Journalists in Africa going through digital skills training.

A bulk of our in-person training work has been made possible by the Google News Lab Teaching Fellowship, which launched this year and enlists industry professionals, academic experts and experienced journalists to help us provide practical, in-person workshops and presentations across the world. In total, we hosted workshops, hackathons, and in-person trainings for 48K journalists across 52 countries.

Since we can’t be everywhere in-person, our online training center offers a round-the-clock service in 13 languages including Arabic, Polish, Hebrew and Hindi. We’re continuing to collaborate with training organizations around the world, and our growing Training Network now includes expert trainers in Europe, the U.S. and parts of Asia Pacific. There’s plenty more to do in 2018 and we’re looking forward to working with journalists and newsrooms across the world.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/APpybSXMKLk/

Go beyond the gridiron in VR with "NFL Immersed" season two

Category: Google | Dec 14, 2017

Jump, Google’s platform for virtual reality video capture that combines high-quality VR cameras and automated stitching, simplifies VR video production and helps filmmakers of all backgrounds and skill levels create amazing content. For the past two years, we’ve worked with NFL Films, one of the most recognized team of filmmakers in sports and the recipient of 112 Sports Emmys, to show what some of the best creators could do with Jump. Last year they debuted the first season of the virtual reality docuseries “Immersed,” and today the first three episodes of season two land on Daydream through YouTube VR and the NFL’s YouTube channel. This season will give fans an even more in-depth look at some of the NFL’s most unique personalities through three multi-episode arcs, each dedicated to a different player.

Shot with the latest Jump camera, the YI HALO, the first three episodes follow Chris Long, defensive end for the Philadelphia Eagles. Each episode gives fans a sneak peek into his life on and off the field, from his decision to donate his salary to charity to a look at how he prepares for game day. They’re available on Daydream through YouTube VR and the NFL’s YouTube channel today, with future episodes featuring Calais Campbell of the Jacksonville Jaguars and players from the 2018 Pro Bowl coming soon.

We caught up with NFL Films Senior Producer Jason Weber to hear more about season two, what it was like to use Jump and advice for other filmmakers creating VR video content for the first time:

What makes season two of “Immersed” different from the first season?

For season two of NFL “Immersed,” we wanted to try and dig a bit deeper into the stories of our players and give fans a real sense of what makes them who they are on and off the field, so we’re devoting three episodes to each subject.

VR is such a strong vehicle for empathy, and we wanted to focus the segments on players who are making a difference on and off the field. Chris Long is having a tremendous season with the Eagles as part of one of the best defenses in football, but his impact off the field is equally inspiring. Calais Campbell is a larger-than-life character whose influence is being felt on the resurgent Jaguars and throughout his new community in Jacksonville. And the Pro Bowl is a unique event where all of the best players come to have fun, and the relaxed setting gives us a chance to put cameras where they normally can’t go, giving viewers a true feeling of what it’s like to play with the NFL’s finest.

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Last year was NFL Films’ first foray into shooting content in VR. What was it like filming and producing season one, and how did it compare to your experience with season two this year?

We learned a lot last season; in particular, the challenges of bringing multiple VR cameras to the sidelines on game day. As fast as the game looks on TV, it moves even faster when you’re right there on the field. Being able to get the footage we need, while also being ready to get out of the way when a ball or player is coming right at you took some time to master.

What makes shooting for VR different from traditional video content? What considerations do you have to make when shooting in VR?

Camera position is one big difference in shooting VR versus traditional video content. When we shoot in traditional video formats our cinematographers are constantly moving to capture different angles and frames of our subjects and scenes. With VR—though we’ve noticed a slight shift toward more cuts and angles in edited content in the past year—letting a scene play longer from one angle and positioning the camera so that the action takes advantage of the 360-degree range of vision helps differentiate a VR production from a standard format counterpart.

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What did you like about using the Yi Halo to shoot the second season of “Immersed?”

With the Halo, we were most excited about the Up camera. You might not think that a camera facing straight up would make that much of a difference in football, but there’s a lot happening in that space that would get lost without it. We can now place a camera in front of a quarterback and have him throw the ball over the Halo, giving a viewer a more realistic view of that scene. With field goals, placing the camera under the goal posts produces a very interesting visual that wouldn’t work if the top camera wasn’t able to capture the ball going through the uprights. One of the most goosebump-inducing moments at any NFL game is a pregame flyover, which we can now capture in its full glory thanks to the top camera.

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What tips do you have for other filmmakers thinking of getting into making VR video content?

Take the time to consider why you want to use VR versus traditional formats to tell your story. I work in both formats and feel that if I’m just telling the same story in VR that I would in HD, then I’m not doing my job as a VR filmmaker. VR gives you the unique opportunity to tell a story in a 360-degree space. Use that space to your advantage in creating something memorable.

Grab your Daydream View and head to YouTube today to watch the first three episodes, and be sure to check back soon to see the rest of season two of “Immersed.”

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/XnNA_CW9wAY/

Plan your winter getaway now with new features in Google Flights, Trips, and hotel search

Category: Google | Dec 14, 2017

The end of the year is fast approaching, but the fun doesn’t have to end after the ball drops in Times Square. When you’re ready to kick off your travel plans for 2018 and take a weekend getaway, check out our trending destinations for travel inspiration, and our new features to feel confident you’re getting a good deal.

Get tips when the price is right

Long weekends are a great excuse to escape to warmer weather, but worrying about getting the best price for your vacation can be stressful. A recent study we did indicated that travelers are most concerned about finding the best price for their vacations – more than with any other discretionary purchase.

Google Flights can help you get out of town, even when you’re on a budget. Using machine learning and statistical analysis of historical flights data, Flights displays tips under your search results, and you can scroll through them to figure out when it’s best to book flights. Say you were searching for flights to Honolulu, and flights from your destination were cheaper than usual. A tip would say that “prices are less than normal” and by how much to indicate you’d spotted a deal. Or, if prices tend to remain steady for the date and place you’re searching for, a tip would indicate the price “won’t drop further” based on our price prediction algorithms.

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Similarly, when you search for a hotel on Google, a new tip will appear above results when room rates are higher than usual, or if the area is busier than usual due to a holiday, music festival, or even a business conference. So if you’re planning a trip to San Francisco or Las Vegas, you can make sure you’re avoiding dates when big conferences are scheduled and hotel prices tend to be high.

Hotel Mkt Insights

If you prefer to wait and see if prices drop, you can now get email price alerts by opting into Hotel Price Tracking on your phone—this will roll out on desktop in the new year.

Hotel Email Price Tracking

See the sights without breaking the bank

Vacation time is precious, and once you book your flight and hotel and arrive at your destination, it’s time to have some fun. Google Trips’ new Discounts feature helps you instantly access deals for ticketing and tours on top attractions and activities. Book and save on a tour of the Mayan ruins near Cancun, or get priority access to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. No matter where you’re headed (and if you need ideas, read on), Trips makes it easy to browse and access fun stuff to do on your vacation without breaking the bank.

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Head to the beach for MLK Weekend

People are already searching for flights for Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, from January 12th to 15th. The top trending domestic destinations for MLK Weekend offer a warm climate—with Florida and Hawaii taking the lead. For folks heading out of the country, Cancun and Bangkok are top beach destinations, whereas Rome and Tokyo are top cultural destinations.

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Pick a tropical island or go across the pond for Presidents’ Day

Presidents’ weekend is right on the heels of Valentine’s Day next year, so it’s easy to take time off to spend time with that special someone, celebrate singledom with friends, or maybe just treat yourself to a solo adventure. Tropical islands are the most popular for a domestic getaway, with three of Hawaii’s major islands—Oahu, Maui, and Kauai—all trending in flight searches. For international flight searches, Cancun and Bangkok still top the list, but classic European cities like Paris, Rome, and Barcelona are also climbing in popularity.

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Amidst celebrations with friends and family this December, start dreaming about your next winter getaway in the new year. We’ll help you get there.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/F-uev54-ROs/

How Scheels uses Chrome to help its sales associates better serve customers

Category: Google | Dec 14, 2017

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is from Becky Torkelson, Computer Support Specialist Leader for Scheels, an employee-owned 27-store chain of sporting goods stores in the Midwest and West. Scheels uses Chrome browser and G Suite to help its 6,000 employees better serve customers and work together efficiently.

Whether customers come to Scheels stores to buy running shoes, fishing rods or camping stoves, they talk to associates who know the products inside and out. We hire people who are experts in what they’re selling and who have a passion for sports and outdoor life. They use Chrome browser and G Suite to check email and search for products from Chromebooks right on the sales floor, so they can spend more time serving customers.

That’s a big improvement over the days when we had a few PCs, equipped with IBM Notes and Microsoft Office, in the back rooms of each store. Associates and service technicians used the PCs to check email, enter their work hours or look up product specs or inventory for customers—but that meant they had to be away from customers and off the sales floor.

Starting in 2015, we bought 100 Chromebooks and 50 Chromeboxes, some of which were used to replace PCs in store departments like service shops. Using Chromebooks, employees in these departments could avoid manual processes that slowed down customer service in the past. With G Suite, Chrome devices and Chrome browser working together, our employees have access to Gmail and inventory records when they work in our back rooms. They can quickly log on and access the applications they need. This means they have more time on the sales floor for face-to-face interaction with customers.

Our corporate buyers, who analyze inventory and keep all of our stores stocked with the products we need, use Google Drive to share and update documents for orders instead of trading emails back and forth. We’re also using Google Sites to store employee forms and policy guides for easy downloading—another way people save time.  

We use Chrome to customize home pages for employee groups, such as service technicians. As soon as they log in to Chrome, the technicians see the bookmarks they need—they don’t have to jump through hoops to find technical manuals or service requests. Our corporate buyers also see their own bookmarks at login. Since buyers travel from store to store, finding their bookmarks on any computer with Chrome is a big time-saver.

Our IT help desk team tells me that they hardly get trouble tickets related to Chrome. There was a very short learning curve when we changed to Chrome, an amazing thing when you consider we had to choose tools for a workforce of 6,000 people. The IT team likes Chrome’s built-in security—they know that malware and antivirus programs are running and updating in the background, so Chrome is doing security monitoring for us.

Since Scheels is employee-owned, associates have a stake in our company’s success. They’re excited to talk to customers who want to learn about the best gear for their favorite sports. Chrome and G Suite help those conversations stay focused on customer needs and delivering smart and fast service.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/q_nHYohbDwQ/

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