Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Explore Mandela's archives online

Last year we announced a $1.25 million grant to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory to help conserve and digitize thousands of archival documents, photographs and videos about Nelson Mandela. Based in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory (NMCM) is committed to documenting the life and times of one of the world's greatest statesmen and dispersion his story to promote social justice throughout the world.

Today, the Mandela archive has become a actuality. Along with historians, educationalists, researchers, activists and many others around the world, you can access a wealth of information and knowledge about the life and inheritance of this extraordinary African leader. The new online multimedia archive includes Mandela’s correspondence with family, comrades and friends, diaries written during his 27 years of imprisonment, and notes he made while leading the discussions that ended apartheid in South Africa. The archive will also include the earliest-known photo of Mr. Mandela and never-before seen drafts of Mr. Mandela's manuscripts for the follow-up to his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom.

We’ve worked closely with the NMCM to create an interactive online experience which we hope will motivate you as much as us. You can search and browse the archives to discover different parts of Mandela’s life and work in depth: Early Life, Prison Years, Presidential Years, and Retirement, Books for Mandela, Young People and My Moments with a Legend.

For example, you might be concerned in Nelson Mandela’s personal memories of the time he was incarcerated and click into the Prison Years exhibit. You can immediately see a curate set of materials threaded together into a broader narrative. These take in handwritten notes on his desk calendars, which show, for example, that he met President F.W. De Klerk for the first time on December 13, 1989 for two and a half hours in prison; the Warrants of Committal issued by the Supreme Court which sent him to prison; the earliest known photo of Nelson Mandela’s prison cell on Robben Island circa 1971; and a personal letter written from prison in 1963 to his daughters, Zeni and Zindzi, after their mother was arrested, absolute with transcript.

From there, you might want to see all the letters held by the records, and click “See more” in the letters category, where you can find out all personal letters or use the time filter to explore his diaries and calendars written between 1988 and 1998, where you can see that in the last page of the last diary, he met with President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda to swap over ideas about the situation in northern Uganda. If you were a researcher, you can search through various fragments of Madiba’s memory that narrate to Ahmed Kathrada, his long-time comrade, politician and anti-apartheid activist, where you can find photos, videos, manuscripts and letters that relate to him.

Finally, by clicking into the exhibit, My Moments with a Legend, you can go beyond Madiba’s personal materials to get a diverse viewpoint through photos, videos and stories, via the memories of people like Archbishop Desmond Tutu, F.W. De Klerk and Nomfundo Walaza, a community worker.

The Nelson Mandela Digital Archive project is a proposal by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory and the Google Cultural Institute, which helps to protect and promote our diverse cultural and historical heritage. Some of our other initiatives include the Art Project, digitizing the Dead Sea Scrolls and bringing the Yad Vashem Holocaust materials online.

You can start exploring the Nelson Mandela archive right now at We hope you’ll be enthused by this influential leader—the face of South Africa’s transition to democracy.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Ideas worthy of space travel: The YouTube Space Lab worldwide winners

Can you teach old spider new tricks? Could better understanding alien superbugs cure diseases on Earth? These are the questions that will be asked by the two winning experiments of YouTube Space Lab, the science competition that challenged students from 14 to 18 years old to design a science experiment that might be performed in space. Your votes and our expert judges chose the winners from thousands of entries from approximately the world. Experiments submitted by Dorothy and Sara, from Troy, Mich., U.S. (winners in the 14-16-year-old age group) and Amr from Alexandria, Egypt (winner in the 17-18-year-old age group) will be performed aboard the International Space Station and live streamed to the world on YouTube.

Meet Amr from Alexandria, Egypt
Global Winner, 17-18-year-old age group:

Watch his entry: “Can you teach an old spider new tricks?”

Meet Dorothy and Sara from Troy, Mich., U.S.
Global Winners, 14-16-year-old age group:

Sunita Williams—the NASA astronaut who’ll fly to the International Space Station later this year and perform the winning experiments live on YouTube—announced the global winners at a special ceremony in Washington, D.C., where the six local winning teams were gathered. While in Washington, all the teams also took a ZERO-G weightless flight and a private tour of the the Udvar-Hazy Air & Space Museum.

In addition to having their experiments performed in space, Amr, Dorothy and Sara get to choose connecting one of two awesome space adventures: a trip to Japan to watch their experiment blast off in a rocket bound for the ISS or, once they’re 18 years old, a week-long astronaut course in Star City, Russia, the training middle for Russian cosmonauts.

Subscribe to the YouTube Space Lab channel for all the best space playlists and to check out video of the winners on their ZERO-G flight. Stay tuned for the live stream from space, which will take position later this year.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Making our ads superior for everyone

We consider that ads are useful and applicable information that can help you find what you’re looking for online—whether you’re comparing digital cameras or researching new cars. We also wish for you to be able to use Google and click on any ads that interest you with self-assurance. Just as we work hard to make Gmail free of spam and the Google Play Store free of malware, we’re committed to enforce rigorous standards for the ads that appear on Google and on our partner sites.

Like all additional Internet companies, we’re fighting a war against a huge number of bad actors—from websites selling counterfeit goods and fraudulent tickets to underground international operations annoying to spread malware and spyware. We must remain vigilant because scammers will all time try to find new ways to abuse our systems. Given the number of searches on Google and the number of rightful businesses who rely on this system to reach users, our work to take away bad ads must be precise and at scale.

We lately made some improvements to help ensure the ads you see comply with our strict policies, so we required giving you an overview of both our principles and these new technologies.

Ads that harm users are not allowed on Google
We’ve always approached our ads system with trust and safety in mind. Our policies cover a wide range of issues across the sphere in every country in which we do business. For example, our ads policies don’t allow ads for prohibited products such as counterfeit goods or harmful products such as handguns or cigarettes. We also don’t permit ads with misleading claims (“lose weight guaranteed!”), fraudulent work-at-home scams (“get rich quick working from home!”) or unclear billing practices.

How it all works
With billions of ads submitted to Google every year, we use a mixture of sophisticated technology and manual review to detect and remove these sorts of ads. We spend millions of dollars building technical architecture and higher machine learning models to fight this battle. These systems are intended to detect and remove ads for malicious download sites that contain malware or a virus before these ads could appear on Google. Our automated systems also scan and review landing pages—the websites that people are taken to once they click—as well as advertiser accounts. When potentially offensive ads are flagged by our automated systems, our policy specialists review the ads, sites and accounts in detail and take action.

Improvements to uncovering systems
Here are some significant improvements that we’ve newly made to our systems:

* Improved “query watch” for counterfeit ads: While any person can report counterfeit ads, we’ve widened our proactive monitoring of sensitive keywords and queries related to counterfeit goods which allows us to catch more counterfeit ads before they ever appear on Google
* New “risk model” to detect violations: Our computer scanning depends on detailed risk models to decide whether a particular ad may violate our policies, and we recently upgraded our engineering system with a new “risk model” that is even more accurate in detecting advertisers who violate our policies
* Faster manual review process: Some ads need to be reviewed physically. To increase our response time in preventing ads from policy-violating advertisers, we sped up our interior processes and systems for manual reviews, enabling our specialists to be more accurate and fast
* Twenty-four hour response time: We aim to react within 24 hours upon receiving a reliable complaint about an ad to ensure that we’re reviewing ads in a timely fashion

We also regularly review and update the areas which our policies cover. For example, we recently rationalized our policy for ads related to short-term loans in order to protect people from misleading claims. For short-term loans, we necessitate advertisers to disclose fine-print details such as overall fees and annual percentage rate, as well as implications for late and non-payment.

Bad ads are declining
The numbers show we’re having success. In 2011, advertisers submitted billions of ads to Google, and of those, we disabled more than 130 million ads. And our systems carry on improving—in fact, in 2011 we reduced the percentage of bad ads by more than 50% compared with 2010. That means that our methods are working. We’re also catching the vast mainstream of these scam ads before they ever appear on Google or on any of our partner networks. For example, in 2011, we shut down about 150,000 accounts for attempting to advertise counterfeit goods, and more than 95% of these accounts were exposed through our own detection efforts and risk models.

Here’s David Baker, Engineering Director, who can explain more about how we detect and take away scam ads:

What you can do to help
If you’re an advertiser, we give confidence you to review our policies that aim to protect users, so you can help keep the web safe. For everyone else, our Good to Know site has lots of advice, including tips for avoiding scams anywhere on the Internet. You can also report ads you believe to be deceitful or in violation of our policies and, if needed, file a complaint with the suitable agency as listed in our Web Search Help Center.

Online advertising is the commercial lifeblood of the web, so it’s vital that people can trust the ads on Google and the Internet overall. We’ll keep posting more in sequence here about our efforts, and developments, in this area.