Technology and design notes, by someone who has helped technology companies like Google and Bloomberg develop new products. Check out the front door or read up about Stefan. Follow new postings via RSS, or get tweets from Stefan
Teaching Google Docs to be more collaborative, and my Google Starter Project
When I was working on Google Docs I pitched a few ideas. One idea was to compare each saved doc to others already in your doclist and then suggest a folder to store all related items. As new items are shared with you, they'd be analyzed and sent into different folders, and you could teach the system to become better at organizing by manually pruning your taxonomy and the items in it. The Product Manager loved this thinking—and if the whole team hadn't been migrating a new backend called Cosmo, perhaps it would have been built. Adsense is based on algorithms that find "related terms" so it's not hard to imagine that if you used this algorithm you might be able to categorize docs better. I like to think that it might still be built. Working at Google, where we dogfooded the Doclist and everything else, you'd quickly have a mountain of documents, but very few folders (who has time to do that organizing?). This system begins to solve that problem.
I also pitched the idea that we could create collaborative workspaces, with tools that would allow users to collaborate on or annotate any items (not just Google Docs). Shared folders, which launched on 13 October 2009, are just the start of that.
Google Starter Project
My starter project at Google was the Geo-Targeting Tool that enables the display of local results on Google.com. It launched in 2007 . Take a look at the screencast I made. That was an enormously satisfying experience for the whole team. Eric Schmidt, the Google CEO, wrote that this product was a key success for the whole company in the year 2007. We also received favorable reviews from search engine bloggers and tens of thousands of notes from actual users (gratifying to have one's work so carefully scrutinized, I have to say).
Right now I'm helping The Economist become the destination of choice for discourse and debate, and developing a social media platform for a community of thinkers. So far, we have most of the top-level categories in beta on a new open source platform, and now we're working on something we call The Economist Asks.