Author Archives: Elisabeth Leoni

The High Five: put your hands together for this week’s search trends

Every Friday, we look back at five trending topics in Search from that week, and then give ourselves a High Five for making it to the weekend. Today we’re putting our hands together for National High Five Day—so first, a few notable “high five” trends. Then on to our regularly scheduled programming.

High Fives all around
Turns out, searches for “high five” transcend all realms of culture: sports (“Why do NBA players high five after free throws?”) entertainment (“how to high five a Sim”), and pets (“How to teach a dog to high five”). As for virtual high fives, “Scrubs,” “Seinfeld” and Liz Lemon are high five famous—they’re the top trending “high five gifs.”

A First Lady, first a mother
When former First Lady Barbara Bush passed away on Tuesday at the age of 92, people remembered her role as matriarch, searching for “Barbara Bush children,” “Barbara Bush family,” and “Barbara Bush grandchildren.” She was the second woman to be the mother and wife of a president; and searches for the first woman to hold that title, Abigail Adams (wife of John and mother of John Quincy) went up by 1,150 percent this week.

What’s Swedish for robot?
Need an extra set of hands? A team of researchers built a robot to help with one of the most challenging tasks of the modern era—assembling Ikea furniture. In an ordinary week, people might search for Ikea lamp, but for now they’re more interested in “Ikea robot.” Though Swedish meatballs are always a favorite, this week’s trending Ikea furniture items were Ikea closets, plants and sofas.

Work it, Walmart
Walmart’s store aisles are turning into runways with the new employee dress code. They can now wear jeans and–brace yourselves–anysolid color top. As for bottoms, people want to know, “Are leggings included in Walmart’s new dress code?” We never (Arkan)saw this coming, but Arkansas topped the list of regions searching for “Walmart dress code” in the U.S. For people wondering about other dress code etiquette, a trending question was “what to wear to jury duty.”

Kendrick makes history
This week people asked “Why is Kendrick Lamar important?” Listen to this: he made music history by being the first non-classical or jazz musician to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music Composition (high five, Kendrick!). And people felt the pull to search for “Kendrick Lamar prize”—interest was 900 percent higher than “Kendrick Lamar song.”

Source: Search


(Cerf)ing the Internet: meet the man who helped build it

Editor’s Note: Tonight, Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf will accept a Franklin Institute Award (alongside fellow inventor Robert E. Kahn) for enabling the internet by developing TCP/IP, the set of methods that allows effective communication between millions of computer networks. In the words of the Institute, “Every person who has ever sent an email, downloaded a webpage, or sent a photo to a friend owes a debt” to Vint and Robert. We sat down with Vint to learn more about his prestigious career, what’s yet to come, and what he may be best known for (his daily habit of wearing a three-piece suit).

Tell us about the job that you’ve set out to do at Google (as well as your unique title).

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When I first got the job at Google, I proposed to Larry and Sergey (Google’s founders) that my title should be “archduke.” They countered with “Chief Internet Evangelist,” and I was okay with that. My objective was, and still is, to get more internet out there. Google has been very effective in fulfilling that objective so far with CSquared and efforts for the Next Billion Users. But today only half the world’s population is online, and I’ve been told I’m not allowed to retire because my job is only half done.

What are some other things you’ve worked on at Google?
In my years at Google, I’ve had the lucky freedom to stick my nose into pretty much anything. I’ve gotten very interested in the internet of things, and want to foster a deep awareness of what it takes to make those devices work well, while preserving safety, security and privacy.

Since my first day at Google, I’ve been passionate about making our products accessible to everyone, whether you have a hearing, vision or mobility problem (or something else). I’m hearing impaired—I’ve worn a hearing aid since I was 13—and my wife is deaf but uses two cochlear implants. Google has an entire team in place that looks after accessibility across all of our product areas.

Oh, another project I’ve been working on is Digital Vellum, to address my concern about the fragility of digital information. We store our information on various media (think of the evolution of floppy disks to external hard drives to the cloud), but those media don’t last forever. Sometimes the media is ok, but the reader doesn’t work. To make matters worse, even if you can read the bits, if you don’t have the software that know what the bits mean, it’s a worthless pile of bits! Digital Vellum is creating an environment where we can preserve the meaning of digital information over long periods of time, measured in hundreds of years.

That sounds like a lot of work for one guy at Google!
Compared to what a lot of people do, this isn’t much.

What do you like to do for fun?
(It should be noted: When I first asked Vint this question, he excitedly told me about all of the organizations he’s involved with—he’s the Chairman of the Board of the People Centered Internet, a visiting scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, former Chairman of the Board of ICANN, and was appointed to the National Science Board by President Obama. I pointed out that he does a lot of work outside of work—which he clearly loves—and reminded him of my particular definition of fun, to which he responded with the following).

I enjoy reading science fiction (my favorite is Isaac Asimov’s "Foundation" series), biographies and history; wine tasting and gourmet cooking; and small dinner gatherings with interesting people.

I’m just a 19th-century guy living in a 21st-century world.
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Vint Cerf

What do you consider still unaccomplished? What will you work on next?
Interplanetary Internet, Inter-Species Internet, Ethics and Software, Internet Governance Policy.

With this award, you’re joining the ranks of some incredible minds—Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking, to name a few. Of these winners, or anyone who has come before you in the field, who do you most admire?
Alexander Graham Bell, partly because he was so fundamental to communication, and partly because his wife was deaf, and so is mine.


You travel around the world in your role. What’s the most interesting place you’ve visited recently?
I went to Baku, Azerbaijan for an international security conference. It was an amazing gathering of leaders from Eastern Europe and Central Asia, who offered perspectives that enriched the typical Western European views. We discussed cyber-security concerns and social and economic effects of the penetration of Internet into our societies.


Where do you want to travel next?
Lyon, France—wine tasting!!!


Tell us about your formal attire—why do you remain committed to your legendary three-piece suit despite the casual nature of Silicon Valley?
Mostly because I think it looks good. I’m just a 19th-century guy living in a 21st-century world.

March into the weekend with talks by inspiring women

Editor’s Note: Talks at Google is our regular speaker series that brings interesting speakers and brilliant minds from all industries and backgrounds to Google campuses. Each month, we select a few favorite talks from that month, or about a particular topic.


As Women’s History Month comes to a close, we’re re-discovering talks given by women about their breakthrough moments, issues that are important to them, and the strides they’ve made in their fields.

First up, the special guests who stopped by Google New York this International Women’s Day. Oprah, Reese Witherspoon, Ava Duvernay, Storm Reid and Gugu Mbatha-Raw talk about their journey to bring the classic book “A Wrinkle in Time” to the big screen, and chat about why it’s important for women—in the wise words of Mrs. Which—to “find the right frequency.”

Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Ava DuVernay and the cast of Disney "A Wrinkle in Time"

Nathalia Holt wrote “Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars” to tell the stories of the women, known as "human computers," who broke the boundaries of both gender and science. In her talk, she explains how they transformed rocket design, helped bring about the first American satellites, and made the exploration of the solar system possible.

Nathalia Holt: "Rise of the Rocket Girls"

Oby Ezekwesili, Ibikun Awosika and TY Bello, prominent leaders and advocates in Nigeria, sit down to talk about the glass ceiling, and more importantly, how to smash it. They share thoughts on the limitations placed on women in African societies, and offer advice on how to overcome them–from networking to challenging the status quo. In the words of Oby Ezekwesili, “your strongest weapon is about showing up.”

Oby Ezekwesili, Ibukun Awosika, TY Bello: "Smashing the Glass Ceiling" | Talks at Google

Grace Bonney wrote “In the Company of Women” to share the stories of female entrepreneurs from all industries and walks of life. Claire Mazur, Erica Cerulo and Karen Young are among the women featured in the book, and in this talk, they share their own paths to success and what aspiring entrepreneurs can learn about running creative businesses.

Grace Bonney, Claire Mazur, Erica Cerulo, Karen Young: "In the Company of Women"

Kellee Santiago, former president and co-founder of thegamecompany, shares what it’s like to be a Latina woman in the video game and VR industry and sheds light on unconscious bias and feeling like an outsider. As a bonus: recommendations on her favorite storytelling games.

Hispanic Women and the Video Game Industry

The She Word: how Emily Hanley shares her passion for computer science

Editor’s Note: The She Word is a Keyword series all about dynamic and creative women at Google. Last week, the Grow with Google tour—which brings workshops, one-on-one coaching, and hands-on demos to cities across the U.S.—stopped in Lansing, Michigan. Emily Hanley, one of our very own software engineers and a Michigan native, taught introductory coding classes at the event. We spoke to her about returning to her hometown to teach, exposing more kids to computer science, and how her Google Home helps her have more dance parties with her kids.

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What was your biggest takeaway from Grow with Google in Lansing?
It was inspiring to see so many people excited about the opportunity to not only interact with Google products, but to try out programming.

What was one memorable moment of the day?
Seeing the “ah ha” moments when people realized they had actually written code and produced something on their own. The classrooms were packed all day long, and it was so neat to interact with people who realized the potential of what they had just learned to do. People shared their stories of how they were already using technology in their fields, and this class helped them think about how they could do even more.

Lansing Grow with Google event was close to where you grew up.What was it like to go back to your hometown?
It’s amazing to see the investment in towns like Lansing, and to witness the revitalization that’s happening. People are bringing new ideas and technology to industries that have existed in Michigan for decades.

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How did you get your start at Google?
I started as an intern in 2007 and have been here ever since—you could say I’ve grown up with Google.

How do you explain your job at a dinner party?
I’m a software engineer—I speak the language of computers. I work on the Chrome browser and make sure that other engineers who write code for Chrome don’t make it slower.

What advice do you have for girls who want to be engineers?
Don’t be afraid to dig in. Sometimes that means failing, but failure is a natural discovery that helps you figure out what you’re good at. Always ask the question that’s on your mind—chances are half the room is thinking the same thing, and more importantly, it’s how you grow.

Tell us about your path to computer science.
I didn’t learn about computers until college. I was more into physics and chemistry, and computers seemed like a black box. That’s part of why I’m so passionate about computer science education—if I can pass on what I’ve learned to the next generation, they can make something even bigger. They’ll do it tenfold.

When kids are exposed to CS at a young age, it becomes a crucial tool for them. It’s not just a platform for playing games. And you can use CS no matter what your passion is. If it’s fashion or journalism or something else, CS can be a part of it.

Who has helped you along your journey?
My mom always told me there’s never a dream too big. She was always an advocate and a dreamer. Whenever I’ve felt intimidated, or had less technical experience that others in the room, I thought, “Dang it, I’ll work harder and find the next door to bang down.” My mom taught me that.

How do you pass that advice onto your own (five!) kids?
The biggest thing I want to give all my children is confidence in themselves and their abilities to pursue their passion (I always say “pursue your passion, not a paycheck”). So often people internalize criticisms and roadblocks as indications they aren't good enough to keep going on that path, instead of seeing those roadblocks as opportunities to grow.

What role does technology play in your family life?
I have five kids under the age of 7. I try to make technology part of our everyday life, but not the main focus of it. We utilize our Google Home for things like dance parties and measurements when cooking. We use Google for school projects, printing coloring sheets and buying birthday presents. We take tons of photos and make Google Photobooks from our phones so we can have them on our coffee table. I want them to use technology as a tool to aid in their lives, but I don't want it to replace human connections.

The She Word: Winnie Lam, helping Google do the right thing for the planet

Editor’s Note: The She Word is a Keyword series all about dynamic and creative women at Google. This week, Google and the World Wildlife Fund announced the Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online. We sat down with Winnie Lam, who works on our environmental sustainability team, to learn more about this effort and what it means to be the “Captain of Earthly Elements” (her actual title) at Google.

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How do you explain your job at a dinner party?
I’m responsible for environmental sustainability for Google data centers. My team’s job is to help Google do the right thing for the planet.

Have you always been interested in sustainability?
My dad’s first business was a car junkyard—he’d buy the cars that didn’t work and sell the parts. The concept of “reuse and recycle” was part of everything he did, and a big part of my upbringing. My whole family now works in that business.

Tell us about the years-long journey to the formation of the Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online.
In 2012, I led an effort to ban the sale of ivory through Google ads and Google Shopping. I'm not an expert on the ivory issue, so I sought help from World Wildlife Fund, and we dreamed of getting other tech companies to ban ivory and illegal wildlife products. This vision started taking shape at an inaugural meeting with WWF and major tech companies to stop wildlife trafficking online. And now 21 companies across North America, Asia, Europe, and Africa have joined the fight against wildlife trafficking.

How One Googler Stopped People From Selling Ivory

Learn more about Winnie's efforts to ban the sale of ivory through Google ads and Google Shopping

How’d you come up with your job title?
I gave myself the title “Captain of Earthly Elements,” because in my job, I work with the four classic elements: earth, water, air and fire.

You’ve been at Google for 13 years! What has kept you here?
I’ve had many roles over 13 years—from site reliability engineering to product management for our ads products to my current role. I’ve been very lucky that I can align personal and professional goals in the same job, and I’ve had several 20 percent projects (side projects that Googlers can dedicate part of their time to) that involve one of my biggest passions, animals. The effort to ban ivory started as a 20 percent project, actually.

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Winnie's handmade Halloween costume

Wow, what started as a 20 percent project is now a global coalition. Can you tell us about any other fun 20 percent projects?
For a few years, I recruited Googlers to go on a trip to Belize to measure the turtle population, along with scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society—that was a fun one.

What other things do you do in your free time?
I’m an artist and a musician. When I bought my house, I couldn’t find any furniture that I liked, so I decided to design my own. Now the environment is inspiration for my art—a couple of years ago when California was in an extreme drought, I dressed up as an artificial lawn for Halloween (handmade costume!). Couldn’t turn down the opportunity to make that statement.

What’s one habit that makes you successful?
I keep my eyes on the outcome, and always look for something in common with people. Not everyone cares about the environment as much as I do, but I can find common ground. For example, energy efficiency saves money, which can appeal to someone who works in finance, even if the environment isn’t a top priority for them.

What advice do you have for women starting out in their careers?
There’s no career path—you invent it, it’s in your hands. Figure out what demand there is for the thing you’re passionate about, and how your skills and network can be used.

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Winnie and Jane Goodall

Who has been a strong female influence in your life?
I’ve had many mentors along the way. I grew up going to an all-girls school, so female influences were everywhere in my life. Women as leaders were the norm. I once met Jane Goodall at a conference and had 60-second conversation with her about my idea to approach chefs in San Francisco, and ask them to stop serving bluefin tuna at their restaurant. She looked at me and said, "That's the only way to do it." She gave me confidence and validation to keep going, and I haven't stopped since.

The High Five: new words light up in Search

The world learned about new words—whether from Merriam-Webster or Frances McDormand— this week. Here are a few of the week’s top-searched trends (with data from the Google News Lab):

The words of our generation:Dumpster fire,” once relegated to internet-speak, has made it into the official lexicon—one of 850 new words that Merriam-Webster added to the dictionary—and was up 3,200 percent in Search. Embiggen (a word invented by “The Simpsons,” that means “to get bigger”) embiggened with a 2,000 percent spike in search interest, while mansplain went up 500 percent.

First woman to“land a triple axel” and “go to MIT.” These are the top two rising searches over the past year for women who have broken barriers, and with International Women’s Day this week, searches about women continued. Frances McDormand, Jennifer Lawrence and Tiffany Haddish were the leading ladies in Search, and across the world, top searches for “gender equality” came from Nicaragua, Mexico and Sweden.

Say that one more time:After Frances McDormand’s speech at the Oscars, “inclusion rider” became a breakout search term (meaning there was a tremendous increase in search interest, possibly reflecting a term that had few, if any, prior searches). Since the term was relatively unknown, some people heard “inclusion writer,” which also saw a search increase (only 450 percent less than the correct term, “inclusion rider”).

Sweet tooth: M&M’s are mixing it up with new flavors—Crunchy Espresso, Crunchy Raspberry, and Crunchy Mint. Despite these new additions, “Neapolitan”—another limited-edition flavor—was the top-searched M&M flavor this week, and M&M-thusiasts are searching for recipes for M&M cookie, M&M cookie with peanut butter, and M&M cake.

Putting Nikumaroro on the map:Search interest for “Pacific Island of Nikumaroro” soared 4,600 percent after new forensic analysis of bones found there belong to Amelia Earhart.

The High Five: give a dog a clone

This week, Barbra Streisand revealed that two of her canine companions are actually clones of her beloved dog Samantha, who died last year. People took to Search to find out “How much does it cost to clone a dog?” and “How does dog cloning work?” In fact, people unleashed their curiosity for “cloned dog” 1,900 percent more than “cloned sheep,” which was the first-ever cloned mammal. (Coincidentally, the sheep was named after another music legend in the news this week, Dolly Parton.)


Here’s a peek at a few other top searches from this week, with data from Google News Lab.


Weight in gold:Leading up to the Oscars this weekend, a top-searched question was “How much does an Oscar weigh?” (We’ll save you the search—it’s 8.5 pounds!). Margot Robbie leads searches for Lead Actress nominees, and Timothée Chalamet is most searched among the Lead Actor nominees. And before the ceremony, go back a few decades with the top-searched Oscar movies of all time.


Not so Golden:Search interest in “California quality of life” was searched 700 percent more than “California cost of living after “U.S. News and World Report” deemed California the state with the worst quality of life.


Listen to this: When Spotify filed to go public this week, search interest in Spotify IPO went up 4,800 percent and people want to know, “Where can I buy Spotify stock?” and “How to invest in Spotify.”


Reading 9 to 5:After donating  its 100 millionth book, search interest in Dolly Parton’s nonprofit “Imagination Library” went up by 270 percent. As a singer and philanthropist, Parton wears many hats—and her most-searched song is “Coat of Many Colors.”

Source: Search


Talks at Google gets reel with award-worthy actors, actresses and filmmakers

Editor’s Note: Talks at Google is our regular speaker series that brings interesting speakers and brilliant minds from all industries and backgrounds to Google campuses. Each month, we select a few favorite talks from that month, or about a particular topic.


Every year, some of the world’s most celebrated actors, actresses and others in the film industry are nominated for Academy Awards, and a lucky few of the nominees have 45 seconds to give their acceptance speeches on stage. At Google, we’ve gotten to hear from them for a bit longer than that.


In honor of the big awards ceremony this weekend, we’ve pulled together a list of the Oscar-nominated/winning actors, actresses and filmmakers who have stopped by Google over the years.

First, the 2018 nominees …

Allison Williams, Daniel Kaluuya: "Get Out"

Allison Williams and Daniel Kaluuya from "Get Out"

Tom Hanks & Bob Odenkirk: "The Post

Tom Hanks and Bob Odenkirk from "The Post"

Harrison Ford: "Blade Runner 2049

Harrison Ford from "Blade Runner 2049"

And nominees and winners from previous years:

We’ve got a few more seconds before the “wrap it up” music starts—if you have time to watch more, check out the 2017 Talks at Google Year in Review, subscribe to Talks at Google on YouTube, follow them on Twitter or browse their website.


The High Five: cheer(s)ing for red wine and women’s hockey

When a recent study revealed that red wine can be good for oral hygiene, the searches for “red wine health benefits” poured in (it was searched 400 percent more than “white wine health benefits”). And while we’re at it, is red wine good for other things? Two of the top health-related searches for red wine were “How many carbs in red wine?” and “Which red wine makes you lose weight?” Other than red wine, the most searches for “Is [insert food] healthy?” were sparkling water, trail mix and cottage cheese.


Here’s a peek at a few other top searches from this week, with data from Google News Lab.


Olympics-mania: The U.S. Hockey team won the gold this week and people went puck-wild for Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson (search interest in Jocelyne increased more than 7,000 percent) after she scored the winning goal. Women’s Super Combined, Ice Dancing, Women’s Downhill Skiing and Women’s Figure Skating were the top searched Olympic events this week.


At the box office: “Black Panther” has been a roaring success, and people are so engrossed in its fictional world that a top-searched question was “Is Wakanda real?” Michael B. Jordan has been searched the most of all the Black Panther cast members, while Nakia is the top-searched character.


Tote-ally fashion:A $590 grocery bag-style tote from the French brand Céline was a top-searched trend that emerged from Fashion Week. Anna Wintour, who sat with Queen Elizabeth at Fashion Week, was also top of mind—search interest in the fashion icon went up 500 percent.


Missed a beat: After Fergie’s sultry rendition of the national anthem at the NBA All Star Game, search interest in the singer-songwriter increased 1300 percent. Though Fergie was in the spotlight this week, Lady Gaga is the top-searched “Star Spangled Banner” singer in recent years (she sang at Super Bowl 50).

The High Five: roses are red, violets are blue, five top searches for you

Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
Here are this week's top searches for you:
The Dow is down, but a rocket went up to the skies
We're staring deeply into our valentines' eyes
While the world’s best athletes go for the gold
We met the new Gerber baby, just one year old.
Now on to the trends, before my rhyme becomes drab—
All the data we use comes from Google News Lab.

Valentine’s Day

Between flowers, a big teddy bear, a beef jerky bouquet, Valentine’s Jordans and chocolate-covered strawberries, there’s something for everyone on the list of top-searched Valentine’s Day gifts.

New spokesbaby

One-year-old Lucas Warren became a celebrity this week when it was announced that he’s the first Gerber baby with Down Syndrome. Meanwhile, another baby made her debut in the limelight: Kylie Jenner’s daughter, Stormi. Other top searched babies this week were Nick Foles’ baby, Janet Jackson’s baby, and Khloe Kardashian’s baby.

All eyes on Pyeongchang

Figure skating is the most searched Olympic sport in 48 states. The outliers are Alaska and Montana (where snowboarding’s at the top), Nebraska (where curling reigns) and Minnesota (where ice hockey wins all).

Falcon Heavy

After his foray into space this week, search interest in “Elon Musk rocket” took off, and was 350 percent higher than interest in “Elon Musk car.” People searched for famous rockets—other than Falcon Heavy—this week, too: Flat-earther rocket, Saturn V rocket, Sea Dragon rocket and Soyuz rocket.

Ups and (Dow)ns

As the markets went on a rollercoaster, search interest in Dow Jones Industrial Average was 1,700 percent higher than search interest in NASDAQ, and people were searching for “stock market” 1,400 percent more than “economy.”