Google’s Influence on Photography – Street View and Beyond

Jeffrey Donenfeld Photography, Technology Leave a Comment

Following up on yesterday’s post on Google Street View in the Grand Canyon, here’s a great article from LightBox. It goes over the incredible impact of Google’s Street View experiement, and what it’s done for mapping and photography. From the article: In the catalogue to the show Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance, and the Camera since 1870, editor and curator Sandra Phillips compared the biblical story about elders spying on Susannah to present day, saying: “Today, however they would use cell phones to grab a picture of a young woman in a compromised position and send it to friends, having located her garden through Google Earth. Human hunger for seeing the forbidden has not changed. The technologies to facilitate it have.” And she’s right—this technology has been adapted quickly by artists and devoured by the art world. Doug Rickard used Google Street View to see the back roads of the nation in a series called A New American Picture, which was featured at New York City’s MoMA last year and is currently on view at Yossi Milo Gallery. Geoff Dyer wrote extensively in the Guardian about Rickard, saying: “Any doubts as to the artistic – rather than ethical or conceptual – merits of this new way of working were definitively settled by Rickard’s pictures. It was William Eggleston who coined the phrase “photographing democratically” but Rickard has used Google’s indiscriminate omniscience to radically extend this enterprise – technologically, politically and aesthetically.” Street View and Beyond: Google’s Influence on Photography – LightBox.

Google Street View in the Grand Canyon: Google Trekker

Jeffrey Donenfeld Gadgets and Gear Leave a Comment

Introducing Google Trekker in the Grand Canyon – what a great use of Google’s street view tech: Today, demonstrating the rocky and rugged paths we’ll travel to make Google Maps even more complete, we’re collecting imagery from a place no car, trike or snowmobile has ever been before. On its first official outing, the Street View team is using the Trekker—a wearable backpack with a camera system on top—to traverse the Grand Canyon and capture 360-degree images of one of the most breathtaking natural landscapes on the planet. Google Takes Its Backpack-Sized Trekker Street View Cameras To The Grand Canyon | TechCrunch.

Automated Scrolling with The Story of Send from Google

Jeffrey Donenfeld Technology Leave a Comment

By far the coolest example of automated scrolling and parallax in HTML by our friends at Google. Here’s their explanation of the site, but the real magic for me comes in how they implemented the concept in code. We’re answering those questions with Story of Send, a new site that gives you a behind-the-scenes look into how all that virtual information makes its journey through the real world—from your Internet service provider to our data centers and beyond. Along the way, you’ll discover everything from where we filter for spam and scan for viruses to how we’re minimizing our impact on the environment through energy efficiency and renewable power. The Story of Send.

Screen shot 2011-05-11 at 4.43.25 PM

Google Opens Up Chrome Web Store – Continuing The Move To Web-Apps

Jeffrey Donenfeld Mobile, Technology Leave a Comment

Today it was announced at Google I/O that Google is taking the Chrome Web Store, it’s store for selling applications and modules to run in its Chrome Web Browser, worldwide. Additionally, Google is starting to add in-app purchases, and a flat fee for developers to sell products. This brings the Chrome Web Store even more in line with mainstream “app stores” like Apple’s iTunes Store and the Android Market. What this means for the industry is that web-apps are continuing to gain momentum towards mainstream use, and will continue to start to cut into the penetration of “installed” apps, in favor of “web-apps”. Google’s example was the newly announced Angry Birds for Chrome. Chrome’s whole concept and selling point is that all of its applications and functionality happens on the web browser and “in the cloud” – there’s no concept of a user really having installed apps, and everything that’s  done is synchronized across devices, and accessible anywhere. Additionally, most of the actual data processing that happens in an “app” is done offsite in the “cloud”.

Google’s New Nav Bar Being Rolled Out

Jeffrey Donenfeld Technology Leave a Comment

Loading up Google this morning, I was given a brand new shiny navigation bar. The new bar is much more polished than before, and offers enhanced integration with my Google profile. Apparently they’ve been testing this for quite some time now, and are slowly rolling it out to the masses. According to Google Operating System, there are a few different versions, too. Co-workers Kenny Chung and Ben Beyda also tweeted about this well before the change hit my own account.

Google Labs Julia Fractal Map Uses HTML5

Jeffrey Donenfeld Culture, Technology Leave a Comment

Recently Google Labs released its Julia Map fractal renderer – a neat project that uses the power of HTML5, the simple Google Maps interface, and remote processing to zoom endlessly into fractals. Try it! Google: Julia sets are fractals that were studied by the French mathematician Gaston Julia in the early 1920s. Fifty years later, Benoît Mandelbrot studied the set z2 ? c and popularized it by generating the first computer visualisation. Generating these images requires heavy computation resources. Modern browsers have optimized JavaScript execution up to the point where it is now possible to render in a browser fractals like Julia sets almost instantly. Julia Map uses Google Maps API, and HTML 5 Canvas to render the images. It will let you browse these fractals in an interactive manner. We hope you will enjoy exploring the different Julia sets, and share the URLs of the most artistic images you discovered. Update 2011-03-11** Ben Beyda just sent over this new fractal rendering engine, Fractal Lab. From Ben: “We could see this project being pushed even further by adding the ability to create animations from these infinite worlds, which could then be exported and integrated into live visuals and other video-based work.” Fractal Lab is a WebGL based fractal explorer allowing you to explore 2D and 2D fractal. The fractals are rendered using the OpenGL Shading Language (GLSL) to enable real-time interactivity.

Google favors mobile optimized sites in their mobile search results

Jeffrey Donenfeld SEO, Technology 3 Comments

Recently, a client asked me about Google Mobile Search Results, and how the algorithm works to prioritize results aimed specifically at mobile users. In general, I believe that Google favors mobile optimized sites in their mobile search results. There are a number of usability features, such as location base services, screen real estate, and touch gestures that greatly enhance the functionality of Mobile sites. Google seems to be optimizing its mobile search results to deliver sites that deliver enhanced mobile functionality to the user. For your reference, below are a few resources regarding Google’s treatment of mobile optimized sites. Resources: Why Mobile Searchers Need Mobile-Optimized Sites from Search Engine Land Excerpt: “Mobility is a ranking factor for mobile search, and not optimizing a mobile site could make it more difficult to appear in competitive nonbranded searches where mobility is a factor. Likewise, having an optimized mobile site could make it easier to appear for competitive nonbranded keywords where mobility is a factor.” “As mobile search evolves and mobile ranking factors become more prevalent, brands that don’t optimize a mobile site today will be busy playing catch up tomorrow, building mobile links and paying attention to mobile ranking factors to their site. Search engines look at age of links and age of site when it comes to ranking because such factors are hard to manipulate. Success in mobile SEO will be difficult if postponed until absolutely necessary.” Official W3C Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0 Mobile Usability from UseIt Transcript of Scott Huffman Presentation on Mobile Search at Google Searchology 2009

iPhone and Android Applications In Google Mobile Search Results

Jeffrey Donenfeld Mobile, Technology Leave a Comment

Google has started showing mobile application results in their mobile web search results, potentially marking the beginnings of the intersection of web search and mobile apps. This initial implementation of mobile installable application results in mobile web search result is the first step. Mobile network infrastructure and mobile handset hardware are improving, and web standards such as HTML5 with support for interactive features are in the very beginning stages of proliferation. As these advances give rise to rich, interactive web-based mobile applications (web-apps), I think that these installable application results may soon give way, or will grow to include results for web apps. From the Google Mobile Blog: As of today, if you go to on your iPhone or Android-powered device and search for an app, we’ll show special links and content at the top of the search results. You can tap these links to go directly to the app’s Android Market or iPhone App Store page. You can also get a quick look at some of the app’s basic details including the price, rating, and publisher. These results will appear when your search pertains to a mobile application and relevant, well-rated apps are found. Update 2010-06-07, 13:56EDT – In his WWDC Keynote Speech, Steve Jobs just gave a nod to the viability of HTML5-based web apps, stating “”Next, I’d like to talk about the App Store. Before I do that, I want to make something clear. We support two platforms: HTML5 — it’s a completely open, uncontrolled platform. And we fully support it.” Screenshot of HTML5 app Steve Jobs quote from Engadget’s live keynote coverage

Apple’s iPad and HTML5 Power Play

Jeffrey Donenfeld Technology 1 Comment

Is Apple’s reluctance to include flash on iPhone or iPad actually a veiled play to change the entire face of code and web standards on the internet, and beyond? Or are they just hoping to sell more apps?  I think that Apple’s strategy here goes both ways – and hopefully, both outcomes will change both Apple and the internet in general for the better. A Flash-less iPad helps sell applications. One of the reasons flash is such a great technology, and so hotly desired on the iPad and iPhone is for its rich media and interactivity potential. Flash allows developers to make websites function almost exactly like a native iApp would, but have it hosted off site on a third party website, rather than directly on the device. Enabling this channel for app delivery would be great for the developers and brands looking to rapidly launch interactive, media rich apps. By allowing these flash apps to proliferate, Apple would be removing the incentive to work with them and publish apps through their App store, thereby limiting the potential for apple to turn a profit. Wired recently announced that they would be releasing an iPad Wired Magazine app that allows readers to leaf through the pages of the magazine, much like they’re reading an actual paper copy. A flash-less iPad pushes forward HTML5. By restricting the usage of flash on the iPad and iPhone, Apple is forcing developers to either develop iApps through the App Store, OR, and more importantly, embrace alternative interactive web technologies to accomplish what they would have been able to with flash or a native app. Although on the surface this may seem like a more complicated, less ideal solution for web-hosted-app development, it’s actually a blessing in disguise. HTML5 is a highly accessible web standard, which …

Google Wave In Action

Jeffrey Donenfeld Technology 1 Comment

At their IO conference this week, Google unveiled their new communications platform Google Wave. It supposedly combines multiple forms of communication – namely email and IM, into a collaborative communications suite. There’s been HUGE buzz on this lately, and Ben Parr of Mashable has posted a good Google Wave guide. I think Google Wave does have great potential, and its success will be largely dependent on how effectively Google manages to distribute it and enable universal access – users must be able to seamlessly switch over to using Google Wave from their current email/IM platforms. This could mean significant API access for developers (already available), and cross platform interface compatibility. Additionally, I love seeing that they’re enabling access to social nets like Twitter and Facebook. Could we get universal login with our Google login / Facebook login / Twitter login / OpenID login?