Google Apps for Education, a sub plot in Google’s dastardly plan to rule the world, but an interesting one all the same

17 11 2008

Google Apps for Education Edition is a derivative of the Google Apps package, aimed at the education/higher education sector and offering a combination of email, instant messaging, calendaring, document creation and collaborative tools. It’s an interesting pitch at providing a set of communicative, organisational and creative applications and, of course, is in no way an attempt to bypass Hotmail, MSN or Microsoft Office as students’ first port of call for messaging or creating documents. A group of happy students from Northwestern University enthuse about Google Apps here, while Linkoping University give their opinion on it here.

I’ve been wondering about how a range of services of use to students could be integrated into one package, which would effectively ‘follow’ them around as they browse or chat, as the browser embedded applications in Firefox do, so it’s good to see someone as major as Google taking a stab at this, even if the tools available are largely communication based. I think it would be great to produce an online ‘utility belt’ that would bring together the functions of the library catalogue, Blackboard courses on information literacy, referencing tools and online journal resources/repositories/databases. I don’t know how possible it would be and, as Yahoo Pipes left me totally bewildered, I’m really not the person to be taking a stab at building it, but I think it would be great if someone doing research or writing a submission could use their utility belt to search for a resource, access it, find out how and why to reference it and then use a something like Refworks to cite it, maybe saving the particular chapter or article to Delicious on the way, all through the same application.

For those of you thinking ‘you know what, there really should be more Google on the web’: Google Chrome

2 09 2008

Googlifictation: if no-one’s thought of the word already then I’d like to stake a claim to it. If they have, then I really can’t afford lawyers so it’s all yours. I read about the launch of Google Chrome this morning, my immediate reaction being something like that of the orc-y looking bloke in this: I’m pretty sure I’m not going to like it, but there’s not really going to be any avoiding it. Surely there’s enough Google on the internet already without them pitching their hat into the web browser ring? I’m sure that pretty soon you’ll be able to enjoy an entirely homogeneous Google web experience, searching for Google sites through a Google search engine running in your Google browser. Happy days indeed!

Then I read Google’s blog entry on the launch of Chrome and my knee stopped jerking quite so fiercely. A lot of what they say about Chrome is actually very persuasive and makes a lot of sense in the context of recent changes in the web and how people experience it. For example:

We realized that the web had evolved from mainly simple text pages to rich, interactive applications and that we needed to completely rethink the browser. What we really needed was not just a browser, but also a modern platform for web pages and applications, and that’s what we set out to build.

Best of all, I felt was this:

Under the hood, we were able to build the foundation of a browser that runs today’s complex web applications much better. By keeping each tab in an isolated “sandbox”, we were able to prevent one tab from crashing another and provide improved protection from rogue sites. We improved speed and responsiveness across the board. We also built a more powerful JavaScript engine, V8, to power the next generation of web applications that aren’t even possible in today’s browsers.

So now I’ve gone from an impending sense of doom to a feeling of more than mild interest in how Chrome is going to work. I’ll be getting hold of the beta version ASAP and putting my thoughts here in the coming weeks.