The Many Faces of Google

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Prototypes and Demos (Google Labs)

Google's mission is to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." To this end, Google showcases some prototypes and products in development on the Google Labs, the web site of Google's research group which is referred to as "Google's technology playground."

Visit Google Labs' home page at

Screen shot of Google Labs, which showcases a few of its favorite ideas that aren't quite ready for prime time.

Note: Google Labs updates its site periodically. So you may find prototypes or demos different from the ones shown here. Google will likely refine some of these demos and make them available through Google's home page. If you want to become part of Google's development process, try out these prototypes and provide feedback to the engineers who developed them.

In Parts II and III, we covered some graduates of Google Labs, services and tools that have been refined and made available through Google's home page.

       O Google News Alerts
       O Google Glossary
       O Search by Location (Google Local)      

Now let's take a look at a couple of the things that Google has in development

O Google Sets -
Automatically create sets of items from a few examples.

  1. Click on Google Sets (above) to open the service
  2. Enter a few items from a set of things. For example, to get a list of places to visit in New York enter a few you know about (Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden and Grant's Tomb)
  3. Click on the &kquot;Small Set" button. Google Sets suggests other places worth visiting in New York
  4. You can get even more it you click on the "Grow Set" button.

Use Google sets to suggest: people who might share interests with you, places to visit, books to read, movies to see, synonyms, food you might enjoy, stores where you can buy a particular type of item, etc.

O Personalized Web Search -
Delivers custom search results that are based on a profile you create describing your interests. Start by clicking the "Personalized Web Search" button above to open the service.

Screen shot of the Personalized Google home page.

Next, click on the Create Profile link to reate a profile of your interests.

Screen shot of the Personalized Google home page.
After you have created a profile, when you do a search on the Personalized Web Search page a small slider appears just under the Google logo. By dragging it to the right the search results are focused to more closely match your profile.

For example, Set your profile to Health and then to Medicine and Nursing. Now do a search on "University of Pennsylvania". The results are about what you'd expect: the first entry is a link to the University of Pennsylvania's web site (

However, when you more the slider to the right, the entries become more and more focused on the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. When the slider is at the far right, the first entry is a link to "OncoLink", the U of Penn's cancer center.

Answers to frequently asked questions about Google Personalized Web search are available at


These problems give you practice in using Google Labs prototypes and demos.

  1. Visit Google Labs and try out two of the prototypes and demos that are listed on the site.

  2. Get suggestions for books by entering some of your favorite authors or titles and asking Google Sets to predict other members of the set.

  3. Enter some of your favorite movies and see if Google Sets recommends either movies you haven't seen or other of your favorite movies.

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