I found these Google Fun Facts while I was messing around with my Gmail settings. Some people may already know about these facts but I want to put them here anyway.
- Google’s name is a play on the word googol, which refers to the number 1 followed by one hundred zeroes. The term was coined by Milton Sirotta, nephew of American mathematician Edward Kasner, and was popularized in the book, “Mathematics and the Imagination” by Kasner and James Newman. Google’s play on the term reflects the company’s mission to organize the immense amount of information available on the web.
- Google started as a research project at Stanford University, created by Ph.D. candidates Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they were 24 years old and 23 years old respectively (a combined 47 years old).
- Google’s index of web pages is the largest in the world, comprising of billions of web pages. Google searches this immense collection of web pages often in less than half a second.
- Google receives daily search requests from all over the world, including Antarctica.
- Users can restrict their searches for content in 35 non-English languages, including Chinese, Greek, Icelandic, Hebrew, Hungarian and Estonian. To date, no requests have been received from beyond the earth’s orbit, but Google has a Klingon interface just in case.
- Google has a world-class staff of more than 2,668 employees known as Googlers. The company headquarters is called the Googleplex.
- Google translates billions of HTML web pages into a display format for WAP and i-mode phones and wireless handheld devices, and has made it possible to enter a search using only one phone pad keystroke per letter, instead of multiple keystrokes.
- Google Groups comprises more than 845 million Usenet messages, which is the world’s largest collection of messages or the equivalent of more than a terabyte of human conversation.
- The basis of Google’s search technology is called PageRank™, and assigns an “importance” value to each page on the web and gives it a rank to determine how useful it is. However, that’s not why it’s called PageRank. It’s actually named after Google co-founder Larry Page.
- Googlers are multifaceted. One operations manager, who keeps the Google network in good health is a former neurosurgeon. One software engineer is a former rocket scientist. And the company’s chef formerly prepared meals for members of The Grateful Dead and funkmeister George Clinton.
- Gmail was used internally for nearly 2 years prior to launch to the public. They discovered there was approximately 6 types of email users, and Gmail has been designed to accommodate these 6.
- Employees are encouraged to use 20% of their time working on their own projects. Google News, Orkut are both examples of projects that grew from this working model.
- The prime reason the Google home page is so bare is due to the fact that the founders didn’t know HTML and just wanted a quick interface. In fact it was noted that the submit button was a long time coming and hitting the RETURN key was the only way to burst Google into life.
- Due to the sparseness of the homepage, in early user tests they noted people just sitting looking at the screen. After a minute of nothingness, the tester intervened and asked ‘Whats up?’ to which they replied “We are waiting for the rest of it”. To solve that particular problem the Google Copyright message was inserted to act as a crude end of page marker.
- The infamous “I feel lucky” is nearly never used. However, in trials it was found that removing it would somehow reduce the Google experience. Users wanted it kept. It was a comfort button.
- They have found in user testing, that a small number of people are very typical of the larger user base. They run labs continually and always monitoring how people use a page of results.
- This wasn’t a technical talk so no information regarding any infrastructure was presented however they did note that they have a mantra of aiming to give back each page with in 500ms, rendered.
- Quote: Give Users What They Want When They Want It
- One of the biggest leap in search usage came about when they introduced their much improved spell checker giving birth to the “Did you mean…” feature. This instantly doubled their traffic, but they had some interesting discussions on how best to place that information, as most people simply tuned that out. But they discovered the placement at the bottom of the results was the most effective area.
- Google makes changes small-and-often. They will sometimes trial a particular feature with a set of users from a given network subnet; for example Excite@Home users often get to see new features. They aren’t told of this, just presented with the new UI and observed how they use it.
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