Author Archives: Johnny Luu

Books and blockchains: new possibilities for digital literature

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What could a digital book possibly have to do with Blockchain - the technology behind the crypto-currency Bitcoin? And how can you create a situation where someone can own a book, without paying for it, yet everyone can read it?
These are some of the questions we’ve been asking ourselves as part of Editions At Play - a collaboration between our Creative Lab team in Sydney and the London publisher Visual Editions - which aims to create a space for new, experimental, digital storytelling through the marriage of technology and literature.

Today we’re excited to release two new books which, we hope, will continue to inspire fresh conventions around how we think of books and ‘bookness’, and how authors can work with developers and designers to create new formats of non-linear, dynamic literature.

A Universe Explodes, by Google’s own Tea Uglow, is on one level the story of a parent losing their grip on reality.

On another it is an exploration of the idea of ownership in digital culture, asking whether it is even possible to own a digital artefact in the same way we own a physical book or a CD, and using Blockchain to experiment with new models for owning and exchanging digital goods.

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The book is accessible to all, but owned by only a few, and when one owner is ‘finished’ with their version, they dedicate it to a new owner, triggering a change of ownership which is recorded to the Blockchain - a permanent, public database accessible to everyone.
There are 100 ‘versions’ of A Universe Explodes, which each start the same. The first 100 owners receive a personal dedication from Tea, and are then invited to edit the book themselves by removing two words and adding one. They in turn dedicate their version to someone else, creating a ‘daisy book chain’ which gradually gets shorter until there is only one word per page in the book.
You can watch this film or read this post to learn more about the ideas behind the book.


Seed, by British author Joanna Walsh, is the story of a young woman coming of age in the 1980s, digitally growing and decaying around an unmentionable event that every reading will see differently.
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The book uses a sprawling digitally-native canvas to steer the reader and employs ‘story vines’ to navigate the narrator’s dark and claustrophobic surroundings - all set inside and around rich, botanical illustrations by Charlotte Hicks.

You can explore more of Seed - a story that blooms, wilts, and grows - in this film.



Happy reading!


Get the best seat in the house and watch Coachella live exclusively on YouTube

When you think of Coachella you think of amazing music artists, thrilling performances and nonstop fun in the middle of the desert. This year’s fest will be bigger than ever and even if you can’t make it to Coachella in person, you don’t have to miss out on a moment of the action.

For the seventh year in a row, YouTube brings you the exclusive Coachella live stream – presented by Optus. This year, select acts will also available in Live 360. Music fans from around the world can tune-in to Coachella's YouTube channel from April 14-16, on any screen (desktop, mobile and living room).


Catch performances from global superstars and the hottest rising talent in the world, including headliners Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar and Radiohead – as well as Aussie acts including The Avalanches, Empire of the Sun and What So Not.

You can choose from three always-on channels as well as a Live 360 Mode that will appear for select performances. Don’t miss any of the shows you’re most excited for by creating a personalized calendar that lets you track all your favorite performances. The livestream channels will automatically change to your favorite artists based on your selection. And if you turn on notifications for artists you subscribe to, you’ll get a note when they go live.

For the first time ever you’ll even get a sneak peek inside the famous underground dance music Yuma tent.  

If you miss one of the big performances, we still have you covered with a video-on-demand hub that will showcase highlights and footage from performers throughout the weekend.

Stay tuned to find out more information about Coachella performances and be sure to subscribe to Coachella's YouTube channel so you’re part of the action!


Ali Rivera, Head of Artist Partnerships, YouTube recently watched ”Kendrick Lamar “Humble” & Brian Anderson, Global Music Sponsorships, recently watched “Juan Atkins, Derrick May + Kevin Saunderson in Conversation



A remedy for your health-related questions: Google Search launches health info in the Knowledge Graph


Think of the last time you searched on Google for health information.  Maybe you heard a news story about gluten-free diets and Googled "What is celiac disease?" Maybe you were planning a trip to Bali, so you looked up “Zika virus” so you could take precautions. Or perhaps you were worried about a loved one, and searched to better understand their condition and prognosis.

Starting today in New Zealand, Google search results will show information for over 900 commonly searched for health conditions. The new health feature will include an outline of the condition, symptoms, diagnosis, and prevalence according to age at the top of search results. For some conditions you’ll also see high-quality illustrations from licensed medical illustrators. Once you get this basic info from Google, you should find it easier to do more research on other sites around the web, or know what questions to ask your doctor.
This feature has been developed as more people turn to Google to help with their health queries. In fact, 1 in 20 Google searches are for health-related information. That’s why we’ve surfaced trusted, quality health information right in Google Search. We hope this will help people find the information they need more quickly and easily.

We worked with a team of medical doctors (led by our own Dr. Kapil Parakh, M.D., MPH, Ph.D.) to carefully compile, curate, and review this information. All of the gathered facts represent real-life clinical knowledge from these doctors and high-quality medical sources across the web. Each fact has been checked by a panel of at least ten medical doctors at Google and the Mayo Clinic for accuracy.

That doesn’t mean these search results are intended as medical advice. We know that cases can vary in severity from person to person, and that there are bound to be exceptions. What we present is intended for informational purposes only — and you should always consult a healthcare professional if you have a medical concern.

We hope this information will empower you in your health decisions – so the next time you need information on measles or treatments for tennis elbow, Google will be a better place to start.

Posted by Isobel Solaqua, Program Manager

Share your trips and real-time location from Google Maps

“Where are you now?” and “What's your ETA?” Whether you’re heading to a party or meeting up for dinner, you probably hear questions like this pretty often from family and friends. Soon Google Maps users worldwide will be able to answer those questions in just a few taps, without ever leaving the app. On both Android and iOS, you’ll be able to share your real-time location with anyone. And the people you share with will be able to see your location on Android, iPhone, mobile web, and even desktop. Here’s how it works in a real-world scenario:


Whenever you want to let someone know where you are, just open the side menu or tap the blue dot that represents where you are. Tap “Share location” and then select who to share with and how long to share—and you're done! You can share your real-time location with your Google contacts, or even share with friends and family by sending a link on your favorite messenger apps. When you’re sharing your location, the people you’ve chosen to share with will see you on their map. And you’ll see an icon above the compass on your own map reminding you that you’re actively sharing your location. You can change your mind and stop sharing at any time — it’s entirely up to you.


Next time you’re on your way or running late, you can share your real-time location and trip progress from navigation as well. During your next trip, tap the “More” button on the bottom on the navigation screen, and then tap “Share trip.” When you share your trip with people, they’ll see your expected arrival time and can follow your journey as you head toward your destination. Sharing automatically ends when you you arrive.



Location sharing on Google Maps is rolling out soon worldwide, and you’ll be able to quickly let your friends and family know where you are and when you’ll get where you’re going. The answer to “where are you?” is only a tap away.

Daniel Resnick, Engineering Manager, Google Maps

Visit Vanuatu on Street View, and journey under the earth’s surface



More than a thousand miles off the coast of Australia is the remote country of Vanuatu, an archipelago of 80 tiny islands – brimming with lush green jungles, pristine black sand beaches, and nine erupting volcanoes.
Starting today in Google Maps, we invite you to join us on a journey to the edge of one of the largest boiling lava lakes in the world on the Vanuatuan island of Ambrym. To get inside the active volcano, we partnered with explorers Geoff Mackley and Chris Horsly, who repelled 400 meters into the Marum crater with a Street View Trekker collecting 360-degree imagery of the journey down to the molten lava lake, which is roughly the size of two football fields. “You only realize how insignificant humans are when you’re standing next to a giant lake of fiery boiling rock. It’s like looking into the surface of the sun,” said Mackley.




“Standing at the edge and feeling the heat lick your skin is phenomenal,” said Chris Horsly after returning from his descent into the crater. “I hope that by putting this place on the map people will realize what a beautiful world we live in.”



Ambrym is defined by the desolate 39 square mile volcanic caldera hosting two active volcanic cones called Benbow and Marum. But the tropical island is also home to more than 7,000 people who live in the rainforest down the mountain.While the volcano has played a significant role in defining their history due to unpredictable eruptions and influence on agriculture and environment, they’ve learned to live in harmony with this beautiful yet deadly natural phenomena.

Chief Moses in the local village of Endu explains, “We believe that the volcanoes Marum and Benbow are devils. If you go up to a volcano you have to be very careful because the two volcanoes could get angry at any time. We believe that Benbo is the husband and Marum is the wife. Sometimes when they don’t agree there’s an eruption which means the spirit is angry so we sacrifice a pig or fawel to the volcano.” As part of the Google Maps journey, Chief Moses of Endu invites you to take a walk through his village and hopes you’ll be inspired to visit this sacred place he calls home. Following Cyclone Pam a few years ago, the country has been rebuilding its infrastructure. Now Chief Moses and his  village are ready to welcome travelers rs back to Vanuatu to experience  its stunning beauty and learn about its cultural traditions. He believes making Vanuatu more accessible to the world is a key step in the island’s recovery and ability to  establish a sustainable economy and preserve its  culture.

In Street View you can wander the streets of 81 countries and visit incredible historical and natural sites around the world like the Samburu National Park in Kenya, The Grand Canyon, or New Zealand’s walking tracks. Today, for the first time, Street View is going beneath the surface and into the heart of the earth—enjoy exploring Vanuatu’s Marum Crater and Endu village at Ambrym.


Posted by Alex Starns, Street View Program Manager

Visit Vanuatu on Street View, and journey under the earth’s surface




More than a thousand miles off the coast of Australia is the remote country of Vanuatu, an archipelago of 80 tiny islands – brimming with lush green jungles, pristine black sand beaches, and nine erupting volcanoes.
Starting today in Google Maps, we invite you to join us on a journey to the edge of one of the largest boiling lava lakes in the world on the Vanuatuan island of Ambrym. To get inside the active volcano, we partnered with explorers Geoff Mackley and Chris Horsly, who repelled 400 meters into the Marum crater with a Street View Trekker collecting 360-degree imagery of the journey down to the molten lava lake, which is roughly the size of two football fields. “You only realize how insignificant humans are when you’re standing next to a giant lake of fiery boiling rock. It’s like looking into the surface of the sun,” said Mackley.




“Standing at the edge and feeling the heat lick your skin is phenomenal,” said Chris Horsly after returning from his descent into the crater. “I hope that by putting this place on the map people will realize what a beautiful world we live in.”



Ambrym is defined by the desolate 39 square mile volcanic caldera hosting two active volcanic cones called Benbow and Marum. But the tropical island is also home to more than 7,000 people who live in the rainforest down the mountain.While the volcano has played a significant role in defining their history due to unpredictable eruptions and influence on agriculture and environment, they’ve learned to live in harmony with this beautiful yet deadly natural phenomena.

Chief Moses in the local village of Endu explains, “We believe that the volcanoes Marum and Benbow are devils. If you go up to a volcano you have to be very careful because the two volcanoes could get angry at any time. We believe that Benbo is the husband and Marum is the wife. Sometimes when they don’t agree there’s an eruption which means the spirit is angry so we sacrifice a pig or fawel to the volcano.” As part of the Google Maps journey, Chief Moses of Endu invites you to take a walk through his village and hopes you’ll be inspired to visit this sacred place he calls home. Following Cyclone Pam a few years ago, the country has been rebuilding its infrastructure. Now Chief Moses and his  village are ready to welcome travelers rs back to Vanuatu to experience  its stunning beauty and learn about its cultural traditions. He believes making Vanuatu more accessible to the world is a key step in the island’s recovery and ability to  establish a sustainable economy and preserve its  culture.

In Street View you can wander the streets of 81 countries and visit incredible historical and natural sites around the world like the Samburu National Park in Kenya, The Grand Canyon, or New Zealand’s walking tracks. Today, for the first time, Street View is going beneath the surface and into the heart of the earth—enjoy exploring Vanuatu’s Marum Crater and Endu village at Ambrym.


Posted by Alex Starns, Street View Program Manager

Helping communities shine at Mardi Gras

One of our favourite times of the year at Google is when we get together with our friends at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras to help celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion.
At Google we believe that by creating an environment where everyone can feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to their work, they can be more innovative, creative, and inspired at work. We also want our employees to have the same inclusive experience outside of the office as they do at work, and for people to be safe and to be accepted wherever they are, so we look for impactful ways to help the LGBTQI community in Australia.
The Gay Tradies show that day-glo can be appropriate evening wear. Picture: Chris Meier
This year we wanted to take an authentic approach that would promote equality, make a big and lasting impact, and give people a stronger voice, so we helped to fund the Mardi Gras Community Parade Grants program.
This program is designed to provide grants to individuals, community groups and not-for-profit groups to help lift their parade entries to a completely new artistic level.
Salamat Datang, supporting LGBTQI Indonesians. Picture: Chris Meier
This year the organisers received a total of 37 grant applications, more than double the previous year's number, and we awarded grants to 17 non-profit and community organisations:
  • Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome Support Group - AISSG is a peer support and advocacy group for people affected by AIS and/or related intersex variations, and their families. Their float hopes to raise the visibility of people with an intersex variation, and that show they are not ashamed, but happily maintaining their identity, their bodies, families and communities, and one another in wholesome support. 
  • Selamat Datang - Supporting LGBTQI Indonesians - Selamat Datang was created to show support for LGBTQI people in Indonesia and their struggle for acceptance in Indonesian society. Selamat Datang helps to fundraise for LGBTQI organisations in Indonesia including safe houses for young GLBTIQ people and fundraising for people living with HIV/Aids in Indonesia.
  • Trans Sydney Pride is a social and support group for binary, non-binary and gender queer transpeople. Picture: Chris Meier 
  • People with Disability Australia - Founded in 1981, People with Disability Australia seeks to provide people with disability with a voice of our own. We have a cross-disability focus representing the interests of people with all kinds of disability. We are a non-profit, non-government organisation. With their float PWD want to highlight that Disability Pride and LGBTIAQ Pride are one in the same.
  • Lifesavers with Pride - Lifesavers with Pride are an advocacy group within surf lifesaving. Our role is to be the link between the LGBTQ community and the lifesaving community. They represent their LGBTQ members, by promoting lifesaving as a diverse, welcoming and progressive organisation that supports people of all sexualities.
  • Trans Sydney Pride - TSP is a Sydney based social and support group founded by binary transpeople for binary, non-binary and gender queer transpeople. Their vision for their Parade float is to provide visibility to the trans community and show that they are strong, diverse and beautiful.
  • Northern Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Council and Departure Lounge with special guests the Tiwi Island SistaGALS - The Northern Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Council (NTAHC) and Departure Lounge presented 'Territory Stars', a showcase of the unique LGBTQI Community in the Northern Territory and their supporters. Special guests on this float included the Tiwi Island SistaGALS, a group of Trans women who started a crowdfunding campaign last year to attend their first ever Mardi Gras.
  • Psychedelic Love - Is made up of a diverse group of friends, a mixture of LGBT and family and friends and supporters who wanted their float to celebrate their love for one another and for the community in which they live.
Sydney Women's AFL showing their true colours. Picture: Chris Meier
  • Sydney Women’s AFL - With women's teams from across all states and territories, Sydney Women’s AFL is made up of a mixture of straight, gay, trans, Muslim, Catholic, Christian participants who all support each other for who they are. The group took to the streets to show that their is no place for discrimination in sport. There is no place for discrimination in life.
  • The Gay and Lesbian Association of Doctors and Dentists - GLADD are an open LGBTQI friendly group of Doctors, Dentists, and allied healthcare workers - who organise a parade entry for Mardi Gras each year as well as other community events such as socials and wine tours throughout the year.
  • Wett Ones Sydney Swim Team - The LGBTQI Masters Swimming Club walked the Parade to celebrate their diverse membership of different sexualities, genders, ages. They hoped to demonstrate that although their members come in all shapes and sizes they are united as a team and that everyone is given an equal playing field (or swimming pool).
  • Inner City Legal Centre - ICLC has been providing free legal services for people in the inner city area for thirty-five years. The Centre provides a range of free legal services to people in the Sydney. Their float communicated the support of the community legal centre sector for LGBTQI justice and its continuing campaign for creating equality.
  • DAYENU – Sydney’s Jewish GLBTI Group - Dayenu has been running for 16 years and had their first Mardi Gras float in 2000. Their message this year went out to the gay community to promote diversity and religious tolerance.
  • Gay Tradies - This group is made up of gay trades and their friends and supporters. They hoped their float will highlight that there are LGBTQI people everywhere, including the trades and services industry.
Oceania Rainbow's mission is to create safe spaces and support for LGBTIQ Pacific Islanders. Picture: Chris Meier
  • Oceania Rainbow - This group’s mission is to create safe spaces and support networks for young Pacific Islander LGBTIQ in Sydney. With their float they hoped to increase their visibility in the community as Pacific People who are proud of identities.
  • Flourish Australia - Flourish Australia supports people on their mental health recovery journey and helps to reconnect with the community to live a contributing life. By participating in the Parade, they hoped to show their support to the community and deliver the message that everyone has the freedom to Flourish in their own way.
  • Different Strokes Dragon Boat Club - Different Strokes is a Sydney-based dragon boat club that was formed in 2008, with the aim of providing a social and fitness-focused sporting outlet for the LGBTQ community. With their float design they want to show a future where creating equality is not a question, but a reality. 
Words can't describe how breathtaking it is to witness the enormous diversity of groups that make Sydney Mardi Gras so special, and it was fabulous for everyone at Google to be able to make a difference to their participation this year.

The She Word: Tea Uglow, a "pebble in the landslide"




Cross promoted from Google's global blog.
Photo credit: Tea’s friend Christopher Phillips.

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating the powerful, dynamic and creative women of Google. Like generations before them, these women break down barriers and defy expectations at work and in their communities. Over the course of the month, we’ll help you get to know a few of these Google women, and share a bit about who they are and why they inspire us.  

In our second installment of the “She Word” series, we hear from Tea Uglow, a creative director in Sydney, Australia who is known for her love of coffee (but not tea), and for grabbing a “quick flat white and a chat.”

You’re at a dinner party and someone asks what you do. How do you explain your job to them?

Ha! I just do it really badly. I am part of Google’s Creative Lab, a team of designers, writers, developers and filmmakers who combine tech and art to tell interesting stories about Google. We’re the types of people who constantly think about how to push ourselves beyond the notion what is possible and practical. We create unconventional projects to connect technology to culture, and shape new perspectives of Google’s brand.

Why are you proud to be a woman at Google?

Mainly because Google is proud of its women. Our commitment to equality and diversity has been persistent and committed. Most of all I feel proud to be a woman at Google because of the respect and understanding I've received since I came out as transgender, and during my transition.

What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?

I quite like doing nothing. I think it is a massively underrated pastime. I also like to potter and/or pootle.

What do you hope to accomplish on behalf of women everywhere?

To be a pebble in the landslide. (A pebble with demonstrable impact and effectiveness).

If you could take a selfie with anyone, who would it be?

I would totally selfie with Hilary Mantel or Neal Stephenson, two of my favorite writers.

What advice would you give to women starting out in their careers?

My advice, that I give again and again, is that working hard and doing brilliant work are essential to win credits, but to turn credits into points you will have to have difficult conversations and negotiate. And don’t think that you are being pushy or demanding when you do.


Measuring Australia’s love, by numbers


Almost half of Australia is in love right now, although if you’re a dog owner who likes Vegemite the chances that you’re in love are far higher than if you’re into cats and wear budgie smugglers.
To celebrate the 2017 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival, we partnered with Australian Marriage Equality to ask people from all over Australia about love - from what’s an acceptable public display of affection, to who we love and how deeply we feel it, to whether we believe in marriage equality.
Using Google Surveys and YouTube Poll Everywhere, we gathered insights from thousands of people in all states and territories with the goal of showing how love can take different shapes yet have many common threads. We called our survey Love by Numbers - check it out (it looks best on a smartphone).
The Love by Numbers survey was launched at Mardi Gras Fair day. Picture: Chris Meier
 We asked people if they were in love, how strongly they’re in love, we even showed people photos of other people in love and asked if they could spot love when it was right in front of them
The team worked with Professor Lev Manovich from City University of New York’s Culture Analytics Lab - a world leader in the field of culture analytics - as well as local experts to design the survey and ensure the questions asked were not leading or biased.
Among our findings were:
  • 45% of Australians say they are in love right now
  • 67% of South Australians claim to have fallen in love at some point in their lives, whereas just 48% of Western Australians claim to have ever been in love, while Tasmanians are the most in love right now, at 67%
  • Australia has slightly more big spoons (or spooners) than little spoons: 51 to 49%
  • When it comes to PDA, holding hands is fine (84%), but pashing is a little too much (-63%)
  • People in their 20s feel love five times more intensely than everyone else
  • There are significantly more dog lovers in love than cat lovers - some 74% to 36%
  • If you prefer Vegemite to Marmite, you're five times more likely to be in love right now
  • Despite being in love, we're not willing to tolerate budgie smugglers over board shorts: 87% of those who are loved-up right now think there's no excuse to smuggle budgies on the beach
  • Eight out of ten Australians recognise love when they see it, in all its diverse forms 63% of Australians think it’s fair to make same-sex marriage legal in Australia
The Love By Numbers data is hosted online by Australian Marriage Equality, which campaigns for equal marriage rights for all Australians.
We're proud supporters of marriage equality as well as the LGBTI community through our sponsorship of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Community Parade Grants.
Meet the team of awesome Googlers who contributed to Love by Numbers. Picture: Chris Meier
At Google, we encourage people to bring their whole selves to work. In all of our 60 offices around the world, we are committed to cultivating a work environment where Googlers can be themselves and thrive.
We also want our employees to have the same inclusive experience outside of the office, and for LGBTQI communities to be safe and to be accepted wherever they are.”

Full house at the Mardi Gras Digital Garage

Digital skills training might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Mardi Gras, but it was top of mind for more than 100 LGBT and LGBT-friendly businesses who attended the Accelerate Digital Garage skills training event at the Google office in Sydney today.

The workshop, timed to coincide with this weekend’s Sydney Mardi Gras celebrations, brought together small business owners and operators to help them gain the digital skills they need to make the most of the web.

Partnering with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association, we delivered training on getting started with digital marketing and showcased a range of digital tools, including our free online skills training platform The Digital Garage.

Google Australia Managing Director, Jason Pellegrino spoke at the event about the benefits of seeking diverse perspectives and building inclusive teams, for businesses both big and small.

Above: Google’s Yash Godbole; Shadow Minister for the Digital Economy, Hon Ed Husic MP; Google Australia Managing Director, Jason Pellegrino; Google’s Cecelia Herbert; Google's VP Asia Pacific Operations, Karim Temsamani; and Google’s Renee La Briola. 

We were also joined by Shadow Minister for the Digital Economy, Hon Ed Husic MP, a strong advocate for businesses getting online. He spoke about the importance of inclusion to create thriving communities and economies and said it’s important all businesses have access to the skills and tools they need to grow.

Getting online can have huge benefits for Australian businesses. Research by Deloitte shows highly digitally engaged small businesses are more likely to be growing revenue, creating jobs and exporting, yet more than 90 per cent of small businesses are not taking full advantage of today’s digital tools.

Above: Small business owners and operators taking part in the digital skills training at Google Offices in Sydney.  

At Google, we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to succeed online, that’s why we developed The Digital Garage and why we are hosting events for small businesses, just like today’s, all around Australia.

And don’t worry, it wasn’t all work at today’s event. There were also plenty of opportunities for businesses to meet and share ideas - no doubt those conversations will continue well into the weekend!