Today marks the start of the Lunar New Year—we’ve entered the Year of the Rooster.


Across Asia and around the world, families are coming together, houses and neighborhoods are being dressed up in red and traditional lanterns are being hung. If you're still wondering about what the fireworks are all about, Google Arts & Culture is here to help you learn more about this centuries-old tradition.

Celebrate Lunar New Year with Google Arts & Culture

Celebrate Lunar New Year with Google Arts & Culture

Google Arts & Culture teamed up with 12 museums from Beijing to Washington to create a new online exhibition, so everyone can discover the craftsmanship and arts that make this holiday so colorful. Follow the zodiac animals across 1,000 years of art history, learn about the art of the New Year prints with which people decorate their homes, or find out how to give and accept a traditional red envelope.


The exhibition is available for everyone online and through the Google Arts & Culture mobile app on iOS and Android. And if you follow us on Instagram, you can join the celebrations and learn how to create lanterns or fold a pretty paper rooster to celebrate Lunar New Year.

May the Year of the Rooster be a great one for you all!

The Official Google Blog

Year of the Meetup

We hereby declare 2012 as the Year of the WordPress Meetup. You’ll want to get in on this action.

meet·up \mēt-əp\ noun
A meeting, especially a regular meeting of people who share a particular interest and have connected with each other through a social-networking Web site: a meetup for new moms in the neighborhood; a meetup to plan the trip; a meetup for WordPress users.1

So what is a WordPress Meetup? Basically, it’s people in a community getting together — meeting up — who share an interest in WordPress, whether they be bloggers, business users, developers, consultants, or any other category of person able to say, “I use WordPress in some way and I like it, and I want to meet other people who can say the same.” Meetups come in different shapes and sizes, but they all carry the benefit of connecting you with potential collaborators and friends, and helping you learn more about what you can do with WordPress. Here are some of the common types of WordPress meetups:

  • Hang out and work on your WordPress sites together
  • Social/happy hour type gatherings
  • Mini-lectures/presentations
  • Developer hacking meetups
  • Show & tell of how group members are using WordPress
  • Formal instruction on how to use WordPress
  • Lecture series (possibly with visiting speakers)
  • Genius bar/help desk

There’s no prescribed format, as each local group can decide for itself what they want to do. Some groups mix it up from month to month, while others have multiple events each month to satisfy the needs of their community.

The tough part? Running a popular group takes time and money. Just as we worked last year to remove the financial burden for WordCamp organizers and provide logistical support so they could focus more on their event content and experience, we want to start extending that kind of support to meetup groups as well. We don’t want it to cost anything for someone to run a WordPress meetup, or to attend one — building local communities should be as free as WordPress itself!

Since there are so many more meetups than there are WordCamps, we’re going to start with the cost that is the same for every group: organizer dues. We’re setting up an official WordPress account on right now, and over the next couple of weeks will be working with existing meetup group organizers, people who want to start a new meetup group, and the helpful folks at to put this program in place. WordPress meetup groups that choose to have their group become part of the WordPress account will no longer pay organizer dues for that group, as the WordPress Foundation will be footing the bill.

This is exciting for several reasons. First, it means local organizers who are giving something back to the project by way of their time won’t also have shell out $ 12-19/month for the privilege. That alone is a big step. Second, it will open the door to more events and leaders within a community, since leadership and event planning won’t need to be tied to “owning” the meetup group. Third, more active meetup groups means more WordCamps, yay!

In addition to the financial aspects, we’ll be working on ways to improve social recognition of meetup activity by incorporating feeds from the official meetup groups into the site, and including meetup group participation in the activity stream on your profile.2 I’m also hoping we can do something around providing video equipment to meetup groups (like we already do for WordCamps) to record presentations and tutorials that can be posted to, helping meetup groups offer WordPress classes in their community, and getting involved with mentoring WordPress clubs at local schools and universities. Oh, and we’ll send out some WordPress buttons and stickers to the groups that join in, because everyone loves buttons and stickers.

We’re also putting together some cool resources for people who want to start a new meetup group. There will be a field guide to getting started and some supplies to help you get your group going, and a forum for organizers to talk to and learn from each other.

Over time, we’ll be talking to organizers and looking at what other expenses we can absorb and what other support we can provide to local groups. For now, we’re starting with the organizer dues. If you currently run a WordPress meetup group (whether you are using or not) or would like to start a WordPress meetup group in your area, please fill out our WordPress Meetup Groups survey. Filling in the survey doesn’t obligate you to join the official group, it just gives us a starting point to a) find out what groups are around/interested, and b) get some information on existing groups and their expenses and needs. will contact the group organizers who’ve said they’d like to join the new program, and will walk them through the logistics of the change and answer questions before helping them to opt-in officially.

So, if you currently run a WordPress meetup group, or you would like to start one, please  fill out our WordPress Meetup Groups survey. I can’t wait to see more meetups!

1 – Adapted from “meetup” definition at
2 – Didn’t know about profiles? Check out (put in the username you use in the forums) to see yours!

WordPress News

Renewing old resolutions for the new year

As we head into 2012, we’ve been sticking to some old resolutions—the need to focus on building amazing products that millions of people love to use every day. That means taking a hard look at products that replicate other features, haven’t achieved the promise we had hoped for or can’t be properly integrated into the overall Google experience.

Here’s an update on some products that will be merged, open-sourced, or phased out in the coming months:

  • Google Message Continuity (GMC): In December 2010 we launched an email disaster recovery product for enterprise customers that use Google's cloud to back up emails originally sent or received in an on-premise, Microsoft Exchange system. In the time since we launched, we've seen hundreds of businesses sign up for it. By comparison, in that same time, we've seen millions of businesses move entirely to the cloud with Google Apps, benefitting from disaster recovery capabilities built directly into Apps. Going forward we've decided to focus our efforts on Google Apps and end support for GMC. Current GMC customers will be able to use GMC for the duration of their contract and are encouraged to consider using Google Apps as their primary messaging and collaboration platform.
  • Google Sky Map: This app was created by half a dozen Googlers at the Pittsburgh office in their 20 percent time to show off the amazing capabilities of the sensors in the first-generation Android phones and offer a window into the sky. Since we launched the tool in 2009, we have managed to share our passion with more than 20 million Android users. We will be open-sourcing Sky Map and are collaborating with Carnegie Mellon University in a partnership that will see further development of Sky Map as a series of student projects.
  • Needlebase: We are retiring this data management platform, which we acquired from ITA Software, on June 1, 2012. The technology is being evaluated for integration into Google's other data-related initiatives.
  • Picnik: We acquired this online photo editor in 2010. We’re retiring the service on April 19, 2012 so the Picnik team can continue creating photo-editing magic across Google products. You can download a zip file of your creations through Picnik Takeout or copy them to Google+. As of now, the premium service is free to everyone. Premium members will receive a full refund in the coming weeks.
  • Social Graph API: This API makes information about the public connections between people on the web available for developers. The API isn’t experiencing the kind of adoption we’d like, and is being deprecated as of today. It will be fully retired on April 20, 2012.
  • Urchin: In 2005 we acquired Urchin, whose online web analytics product became the foundation for Google Analytics, helping businesses of all sizes measure their websites and online marketing. We’re fully committed to building an industry-leading online analytics product, so we’re saying goodbye to the client-hosted version, known as Urchin Software. New Urchin Software licenses will no longer be available after March 2012.

Resolutions can be hard, and changing products that people love is hard too. But we’re excited to focus on creating a beautifully simple, intuitive user experience across Google—an experience that will change the lives of millions of people.

The Official Google Blog

Today we’re pleased to announce a goodie basket full of Google+ features and functionality for you to unpack and enjoy over the holidays. Some of these were on nearly everyone’s wishlist... and some we hope will be welcome surprises. These features will be rolling out over the next couple of days, and we hope you’ll find them useful this holiday season and beyond.

Pump up (or down) the volume!
Sometimes important posts you wouldn’t want to miss from close friends or family can get lost amongst posts from others who post dozens of times a day. We’re adding fine-grained controls that will enable you to “graphic-equalize” and fine-tune your stream. When viewing the stream for a particular circle, you’ll now see a slider at the top that lets you adjust how posts from that circle should be blended into the main stream. That way you’ll never miss a post from that special someone, and you can tweak these settings to form your own “perfect stream.”

More useful and attractive notifications
One of the most useful and valuable features of the redesigned Google bar is the red notifications indicator. (You could even say it glows!) You know when you have tasty social content to consume, but the notifications themselves have been a little cryptic, often requiring you to navigate to the content itself to understand what happened. We now have easy-to-read “sneak previews” that immediately present what’s new and why you might care. We’ve polished these notifications up and made a few other meaningful improvements too, including the ability to see the +1’s and shares your posts have received since you last checked.

Google+ Notifications

Improvements to Google+ Pages
Google+ Pages have already provided brands and businesses a new means of connecting to and deeply engaging with consumers. In the weeks since launching pages, we’ve been listening to your feedback and we’re pleased to make some of the most oft-requested features available.

  • You can now delegate up to 50 named managers as administrators for a page.
  • A new notification flow will ensure that these managers stay in the loop on all the activity that takes place on a page, giving managers the ability to stay involved in page conversations.
  • We’ll now show an aggregated count of users that have engaged with your page, either by +1’ing it or by adding it to a circle. This way, both you and your page’s visitors can get an at-a-glance summary of who is interacting with your page.

A more beautiful and usable photos experience
Finally, we’re making a bevy of improvements to the Google+ Photos experience, just in time for the holiday photo-sharing season. Viewing a photo in Lightbox has been completely redesigned with improved navigation, enhanced comment legibility and better overall utility. This design makes the photo the hero, letting the content itself shine through. And we’re introducing a completely new photo-tagging experience that’s both fun and fluid, and lets you quickly focus on the people in your photos.

We hope that you enjoy these improvements and continue to provide us feedback. It’s been an incredible year for us on the Google+ team. While this indeed has been a #seasonforshipping, Google+ users know that we believe that shipping is always in season! We’ve been busy making some resolutions for 2012, and we think you’re going to love them.

The Official Google Blog

We’ve made a new $ 94 million investment in a portfolio of four solar photovoltaic (PV) projects being built by Recurrent Energy near Sacramento, California. This brings our portfolio of clean energy investments to more than $ 915 million. We’ve already committed to providing funding this year to help more than 10,000 homeowners install solar PV panels on their rooftops. But this investment represents our first investment in the U.S. in larger scale solar PV power plants that generate energy for the grid—instead of on individual rooftops. These projects have a total capacity of 88 MW, equivalent to the electricity consumed by more than 13,000 homes.

We’re investing alongside global investment firm KKR and Recurrent Energy, a leading solar developer. Google will provide a $ 94 million equity investment and SunTap Energy, a new venture formed today by KKR to invest in solar projects in the U.S., will provide the remaining equity.

We’re joining KKR on their first renewable energy investment in the U.S. We believe investing in the renewable energy sector makes business sense and hope clean energy projects continue to attract new sources of capital to help the world move towards a more sustainable energy future.

Solar panels at one of the Recurrent projects

The energy produced by these projects is already contracted for 20 years with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). SMUD recently created a feed-in tariff program (FIT) to help green the grid for Sacramento-area residents. We’re excited that these projects are the first to be built under the program.

We’ve had a busy year at Google. Since January, we’ve invested more than $ 880 million in clean energy projects. We believe the world needs a wide range of solutions—from wind, to transmission, to solar PV and concentrated solar—and we look forward to new opportunities next year to further expand our portfolio of clean energy investments.

The Official Google Blog

One hundred years into the future, when our great-grandkids look back to what was capturing the world’s imagination on YouTube in 2011, what will they make of us? Will they still be delighted by babbling babies? Will they still be “so excited” about the weekend? And will they be any closer to understanding the mystery of the space-traveling toaster pastry cat?

Check out for a timeline of this year's most popular videos and events and to see what the world watched in 2011.

Today, we rewind through the videos and channels that absorbed our collective global attention this year. To compile these lists, we looked at global view counts of popular videos uploaded throughout this year, and, in some instances, we aggregated views across multiple versions of the same video. 2011 was a year of amazing new channels and new stars being discovered, awesome creativity, and of course, Rebecca Black. It was also a year of powerful news stories playing out on YouTube, as people witnessed and documented uprisings and natural disasters, touching personal moments and moments of protest.

In total, there were more than 1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) playbacks on YouTube this year (yep, count ‘em, 12 zeroes). That’s about 140 views for every person on the earth. More than twice as many stars as in the Milky Way. And if I had a penny for every … OK, you get my drift, it’s a big number.

So to all of you who picked up a guitar and sang a love song, held your camera phone high above a protesting crowd, danced along to “Friday” or just forgot the webcam was on, thank you. You make YouTube what it is, and we can’t wait to hear your stories next year.

Without further ado, your most-viewed videos of 2011.

Most-viewed YouTube videos globally (excluding videos from major music labels)

  1. Rebecca Black - Friday (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
  2. Ultimate Dog Tease
  3. Jack Sparrow (feat. Michael Bolton)
  4. Talking Twin Babies - PART 2 - OFFICIAL VIDEO
  5. Nyan Cat [original]
  6. Look At Me Now - Chris Brown ft. Lil Wayne, Busta Rhymes (Cover by @KarminMusic)
  7. The Creep (feat. Nicki Minaj & John Waters)
  8. Maria Aragon - Born This Way (Cover) by Lady Gaga
  9. The Force: Volkswagen Commercial
  10. Cat mom hugs baby kitten

Most-viewed YouTube channels globally (excluding channels from major music labels)

  1. machinima
  2. IGNentertainment
  3. RayWilliamJohnson
  4. expertvillage
  5. BlueXephos
  6. smosh
  7. realannoyingorange
  8. roosterteeth
  9. thelonelyisland
  10. barelypolitical

Most-watched videos from major music labels globally (playlist)

  1. Jennifer Lopez - On The Floor ft. Pitbull
  2. LMFAO - Party Rock Anthem ft. Lauren Bennett, GoonRock
  3. Bruno Mars - The Lazy Song [Official Video]
  4. Nicki Minaj - Super Bass
  5. Pitbull - Give Me Everything ft. Ne-Yo, Afrojack, Nayer
  6. Pitbull - Rain Over Me ft. Marc Anthony
  7. Jessie J - Price Tag ft. B.o.B.
  8. LMFAO - Sexy and I Know It
  9. Katy Perry - E.T. ft. Kanye West
  10. Katy Perry - Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)

Some highlights from other categories

You can also check out the most-viewed videos of the year in fashion, beauty, sports, gaming, travel, fitness, food, science, tech reviews, family, pets and wedding proposals.

(Cross-posted from the YouTube Blog)

The Official Google Blog

Can a 13 year old make money blogging?

Question by Cupcake Luver <3: Can a 13 year old make money blogging?
I'm 13 and I was wondering if there was any possible way for me to make money blogging. If so, how? How can I make sure that it is not a scam? How could I convince my mom to let me do it? Finally, is there any way that I could control the hours that I blog? I get out of school at 2:30 P.M.. Thank you!

Best answer:

Answer by lynnbodoni
No, not really. You only make money by blogging if you have something to say that other people will pay money to read. The average 13 year old doesn't have anything to say that would be worth paying money to read. Other teens might be interested, but they generally don't have the money to spend, nor do they have access to money to spend.

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!

It’s emerged out of nowhere to become one of the coolest sites on the Web in a matter of weeks, but what’s the story behind, what’s so great about it and where is it going?

A service amassing a reported 140,000 users in its first month is nothing to be sniffed at at any time. A service that hasn’t courted the press at all, growing entirely virally, hitting that figure in a month is something that demands closer inspection.

Where did come from?

While it has seems to have come out of nowhere, is actually the result of a startup that pivoted. On discussion site Quora, co-founder Seth Goldstein explains that the service ”is a project that evolved out of Stickybits, the social bar code scanning service, founded by Billy Chasen and myself. Our investors include First Round Capital, Polaris Ventures, and Chris Sacca.”

Dig around the site and you’ll find references to Stickybits, which appears to still be the legal name of the company. This New York startup was based around the idea of the ‘Internet of Things’, letting you stick barcodes on objects to trigger audio, video, photo, and text messages when they were scanned. It seems that earlier this year, the company changed direction to concentrate on

We reached out to for an interview to discover more and we found out just how publicity-shy the startup is. Our initial request went unanswered and when we managed to make contact via an intermediary, we were told that the company isn’t talking to the press at all. In a way, this makes Turntable all the more interesting – here’s a startup acting like a cool indie band, refusing interviews and growing by word of mouth.

How it works

That viral growth is deserved, too. is arguably the most interesting social startup to emerge in a long time. Inventing a new subgenre, ‘social listening’, the site revels in something humans have enjoyed for millennia: shared experiences around music.

If you haven’t tried it yet, here’s how it works: You can only sign up if a friend of yours on Facebook is already signed up. Once you’re in, the site lets you DJ, playing songs in an on-screen ‘nightclub’. Others come to listen to you in your ‘room’ and can join you on the decks if they choose. Multiple DJs (up to five) play a song each in turn and everyone else in the room gets to vote on the current DJ’s choice. If your choice gets voted up, you get a point. If it gets voted down by too many people it’s ditched for the next DJ’s choice.

It’s a simple but addictive concept that combines the joy of music with a competitive element as DJs are forced to consider which songs will fit the audience in the room and its current vibe.

Why has it grown so fast?

There are a number of theories about just what has made so successful so quickly about over on Quroa. Ryan Hoover, Product Manager at PlayHaven, suggests that “The Turntable guys have done an excellent job at creating a natural loop to motivate and re-engage users.” This involves visible progress and rewards (through DJ points and the ability to gain ‘fans’ who are then alerted by email each time you start DJing); motivating emotion (it’s a great feeling when people’s avatars start ‘nodding their heads’ in time to your music), social calls to action (through the group chat function, and the ability to share your taste in music and judge other people’s), and user re-engagement (it’s such an enjoyable social experience that you want to get your friends on boards to share the fun).

However, Adrian Chan, a social interaction designer, goes further, believing that there’s a deeper social element to Turntable’s success:

There’s more to be said about the “togetherness” factor. Whether it’s best described as collaboration (coordinating action with other DJs in choosing tracks, for example, that reinforce each other and build flow). Or as something more ineffable, such as sharing time (it’s hard to stop, and there’s some social commitment to remaining in a room).

This “togetherness” isn’t directly produced by the ego-oriented social game features of Turntable. In fact it’s an attribute of the experience that exceeds or transcends what those features can offer in and of themselves. And it says something about the power (engagement) of the tacit, the implicit, and the unspoken aspects of synchronous mediated experiences.

For example, when DJs demonstrate that they’re listening to each other by playing off each others’ track selections, there’s a commonality that transcends… individual achievements. Social games that offer the promise of individual success may be missing out on the uniqueness of shared experiences capable of creating shared surprise and pleasure. As when tracks flow well, as when it’s clear that DJs are not just picking their own favorites but show that they’re paying attention to each other, as when a “good” stretch of DJing attracts newcomers to the room, and so on.

Chan’s definitely onto something. Sociologists would probably have a field day studying the social mechanics behind, and it’s only been going a few weeks. That’s probably the most exciting thing about the service – it connects deeply with users and is still just a mere sketch of what it could grow into.

Possible future directions

While it’s impossible to predict how the service might change as it grows and potentially goes mainstream, there are a number of directions the team behind it can go in.

Customisable and branded rooms: A no-brainer, really. At present every room in Turntable looks to same, no matter what music is playing. Customisation options for room administrators would be a logical addition, but lifestyle brands would no doubt pay good money to have specially branded rooms. Nightclubs could even have their own rooms so that clubbers could continue their Saturday night out whenever they like right from their web browser.

Celebrity guest appearances: Imagine taking to the decks alongside your favourite DJ or musician – it’s an experience that most people can only dream of. On it could be a reality. As with Twitter, it’s likely that celebrities will begin to adopt without the direct input of the startup itself. This week saw rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot play a set on the service. Sure, he’s hardly the biggest celebrity, but it’s a start, and something can build on.

A new way for media companies to interact with their audiences: Earlier this week, we experimented with setting up our own The Next Web room (you can often find TNW staff spinning tunes in there). One tweet brought in a crowded room and it was fun for us to be able to play music with our readers. Music is a brilliant bonding tool and being able to have direct group chat with readers can help media companies get to know their audience better, and vice versa. I even got teased with knowledge of a stealth startup over the chat function yesterday – so maybe we’ll get a few news tips this way too!

Music discovery: Experiencing other people’s music taste is a great way of broadening your own. already has links to add the currently playing song to Spotify and or to buy it from iTunes. In the future, charts of the most popular songs across the service and specific genres would be valuable, as would data visualisations of songs’ popularity over time. In fact, as the service is essentially a more social version of Pandora or, deep statistics would make an interesting counterpoint to’s own stats.  On an individual user basis, profiles could log the songs you’ve played in the past, letting others know more about your taste.

Where’s the API?

Perhaps the most interesting opportunity of all is for a full API, allowing third-party developers to create their own apps and plug-ins on top of the service. While that’s yet to materialise, add-ons are already beginning to appear. One example is, a browser plugin that, as we reported this week, tracks every song you mark as ‘Awesome’ on and lists them all on a separate website. A script is also available for Chrome that promises to scrobble the songs you listen to right to your account.’s big problem ahead: licensing

While’s Facebook friends-based sign-up method has helped it grow organically, it’s also likely to have been designed to keep it growing slowing. This is probably not only to stem demand on servers, but because as it grows ever bigger, licensing is likely to become a big issue. As Peter Kafka at AllThingsD explained this week,

“A deal with MediaNet, a digital content provider, gives Turntable access to millions of songs, and if the song you want to play isn’t there, you can upload your own MP3 to the site and play that…

So how can any of that be legal without label deals? In short, (CEO, Billy) Chasen believes he’s able to run the service under the protection of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) — the same law that lets Pandora operate without label deals — as a “non-interactive” Web radio service.”

So, in theory, it’s legal – but the test will come when it becomes too big for music companies to ignore. Will they believe that a service of the depth clearly has is just a ‘non-interactive’ radio service? It’s unlikely. UPDATE: Just two hours after this post was published, locked down the service to the US only citing, yep, licensing.

Hopefully when that times comes, a deal can be cut that satisfies both sides. is so unique and full of potential that, fingers crossed, it’s just ‘too good to fail’.

TNW Aggregated Feed

It seems that Apple’s WWDC keynote had the desired impact for the Cupertino-based company; developers are salivating at the new APIs, consumers can’t wait to get their hands on iOS 5 and Mac OS X Lion operating systems and investors are beginning to doubt products and services provided by its competitors.

It seems Apple’s keynote announcements have especially affected Research In Motion (RIM), with the canadian smartphone vendor’s stock falling below $ 37 – the lowest level since 2007.

Apple’s iMessage, a service allowing iOS device owners to message one another free of charge, has been positioned as a direct competitor to RIM’s BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service which until recently existed as the only pre-installed smartphone service of its kind, with iOS and Android platforms supporting messaging services via third-party applications.

You can read more about iMessage here.

As a result, RIM stock dropped more than 3% on the Toronto Stock Exchange to close at $ 36.92, experiencing a similar drop on Wall Street, closing at $ 37.82 after a drop of 2.8%.

Not a great day for RIM, which has seen its stock sink more than 35% this year.

TNW Aggregated Feed

Posted by Trevor Claiborne, Website Optimizer team

Google Website Optimizer Blog

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