Google Zeitgeist- Web giant talks ghost towns, AR glasses and secret search tweaks


Google’s annual Zeitgeist conference has kicked off, with the web giant defending accusations that its social network is a ‘ghost town’, promoting its augmented reality glasses and admitting its search ‘was astoundingly bad five years ago’. Google’s current big bets are autonomous cars and augmented reality glasses, which Page was wearing on stage at Zeitgeist. Those projects might seem ridiculously far-reaching, but Page said Google’s previous big bets that are now reality include Android, Chrome, YouTube and language translations.

Watch Larry Page on stage at the Zeitgeist event below:


Google Zeitgeist invitation-only events are typically current or forward-looking presentations by statespeople, inventors, humanitarians and other thought leaders.

This year, however, Google’s CEO Larry Page is looking back over the year he’s spent as CEO of the company he founded with Sergey Brin, after Eric Schmidt stepped down and into the Executive Chairman role last April.

Beyond Panda- Secret search tweaks

Speaking at the conference, Page said he thinks people would be “astounded” by how bad the search engine was just five years ago.

Page explained that the search engine has come on leaps and bounds over the last five years, thanks to small but constant tweaks to its algorithm.

These small changes, Page admitted, were not publicised and done so on a regular basis so they slip by unnoticed by many users.

Brands using search engine marketing, however, need to keep abreast of these developments to maintain their results page positions.

It is these small alterations – as well as the larger-scale ones such as Penguin and Panda – that allowed Google to develop their search engine so much in a reasonably short space of time.

Google+: A ghost town or fastest growing social network?

Page went on to explain how he believed one of the largest impacts the search engine has seen on its results came from Google+.

Keen to promote the social network amid claims it is turning into a ‘ghost town’, Page said that Google+ has made search results more relevant to each user.

Giving an example, Page noted how he recently made friends with a man called Ben Smith, who has one of the most common names in America.

"One of things I did recently which I'm most proud of it that I have friend at Google called Ben Smith and that's a very common name in the US," added Page. "Now with Google+ I get the Ben Smith I know and he actually appears in the search box and there's a little picture of him. And if that's not the Ben Smith I want I can delete him and put a different person in. I'm actually searching for a person rather than the string, the combination of letters and that's a really big deal for Google and it's a really important thing."

Page called the development one of the things he was most proud of, saying he believes that people do not bear in mind that Google+ has come from zero to a considerable size in very little time, insisting that it the fastest growing social network.

"The other part of Google+ is the product itself where you can follow people, you can read your stream and so on; that's a social network. It started from zero and it's grown a lot. It's grown much faster than any other social network ever has."

"It started from zero and it's grown a lot. It's grown much faster than any other social network ever has. We've been really excited about the growth there and the base at which it's growing but it will take some time. We're starting it from scratch."

Augmented reality glasses

Page took the stage at Zeitgeist 2012 sporting an augmented reality headset and joked, “If you guys are going to take my picture, I’ll take your picture, too.”

The headset is the basis of Project Glass, announced in early April this year. Page noted that although the project is in its early stages, he’s excited about how they work so far. Hinting towards his vision for the headset, Page perused the audience and quipped, “It doesn’t yet show me all of your names...”

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