Google, the World Wide Web and WWW conference: years of progress, prosperity and innovation

May 7, 2012

Posted by Prabhakar Raghavan, Vice President of Engineering

More than forty members of Google’s technical staff gathered in Lyon, France in April to participate in the global dialogue around the state of the web at the World Wide Web conference (WWW) 2012. A decade ago, Larry Page and Sergey Brin applied their research to an information retrieval problem and their work—presented at WWW in 1998—led to the invention of today’s most popular search engine.

As I've watched the WWW conference series evolve over the years, a couple of larger trends struck me in this year's edition. First, there seems to be more of a Mobile Web presence in the technical program, relative to recent years. The refereed program included several interesting Mobile papers, including the Best Student Paper Awardee from Stanford University researchers: Who Killed My Battery: Analyzing Mobile Browser Energy Consumption, Narendran Thiagarajan, Gaurav Aggarwal, Angela Nicoara, Dan Boneh, Jatinder Singh.

Second, one gets the sense that the WWW community is moving from the classic "bag of words" view of web pages, to an entity-centric view. There were a number of papers on identifying and using entities in Web pages. While I'm loathe to view this as a vindication of "the Semantic Web" (mainly because this has become an overloaded phrase that people elect to interpret as suits them), the technical capability to get at entities is clearly here. The question is -- what is the killer application? Finally, it’s nice to see that recommendation systems are becoming a major topic of focus at WWW. This paper was a personal favorite: Build Your Own Music Recommender by Modeling Internet Radio Streams, Natalie Aizenberg, Yehuda Koren, Oren Somekh.

In keeping with tradition, Google was a major supporter, sponsoring the conference, the Best Paper Award (Counting beyond a Yottabyte, or how SPARQL 1.1 Property Paths will prevent adoption of the standardMarcelo Arenas, Sebastián Conca and Jorge Pérez) and four PhD student travel grants. We chatted with hundreds of attendees who hung out with us at the Google booth to chat and see demos about the latest Google product and research developments (see full schedule of booth talks).

Googlers were also active member of the vibrant research community at WWW:

David Assouline delivered the keynote for the Demo Track -- to a standing-room-only crowd -- on the Google Art Project, which uses a combination of various Google technologies and expert information provided by our museum partners to create a unique online art experience. Googler Alon Halevy served as a program committee member. Googlers were also co-authors of the following papers:
Googlers co-organized three workshops:
Additionally, a Googler led a tutorial:
Googlers presented a poster:
  • Google Image Swirl by Yushi Jing, Henry Rowley, Jingbin Wang, David Tsai, Chuck Rosenberg, Michele Covell (Googlers)
At the conference, we also paid homage to the founding of the World Wide Web and the strong community and enterprise it’s created since the 1990s, seen in the Euronews report: Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee on imagining worlds. Through our products and support of WWW in 2013, we look forward to continuing to nurture the world wide web’s open ecosystem of knowledge, innovation and progress.

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