Today there was one of those articles in The Times 2 (the features bit of the paper) by James Harkin about how Google used to be supreme but might not be any more due to Twitter, Bing and Ask. (How many of these have I read in the past few years?) As well as the usual failure of these articles to make the point that there are right ways and not so good ways to perform searches, it is curiously out of date because it fails to mention Google Wave, the company's next big evolutionary shift, if all the buzz is to be believed. Google Wave will allow you to aggregate all your online activity in real time, which sounds boring but isn't. As David Brown puts it, it is like "a conglomeration of all your favourite web applications, but on steroids". David's post provides Google's demonstration video and a few ways in which the Wave will help authors, editors and publishers. An even better article, I'm told, also including the demonstration video and some screen shots, is the one by Andy Ihnatko at the Chicago Sun-Times. It's well worth reading, as it is by someone who has, apparently, had a play with it and is a longstanding writer and observer of this scene. And, as the author writes: "Sophistication isn’t about a million beeping lights and the audible grinding of thick gears. It’s a system that Simply Works, and which makes you wonder just how the Humanity managed to get along for so many years without it." If Google Wave fulfils a fraction of its promise, it puts the The Times piece somewhat in the shade. Nevertheless, the article does have a funny sidebar by Hugo Rifkind, so that's something.
Google have been busy making announcements in the past week or two. You can't play with Google Wave yet but you can try out Google Squared, which collects facts from the web for you and organises them for you, a bit like a spreadsheet. There is admiration from an independent, expert source, O'Reilly Radar, where you can read how James Turner got on looking at science-fiction conventions and other parameters. He calls it "an exponential improvement in search". When I've got some time, I might try it out on crime fiction.
Finally for this Google round-up, the company (perhaps recognising the many hilarities of its automatic translator) has launched a translator tool-kit, which it calls "a powerful but easy-to-use editor that enables translators to bring that human touch to machine translation." If you want to know more, there's a demonstration video at the link provided. Just don't think of using it for a novel.