Google and Brazil celebrate Carnival 2013

Ask any person who’s never traveled to Brazil what he knows about the country and it’s likely that one of their first responses is: Carnival (or Carnaval in Portuguese). It's no wonder: Carnival is one of the largest celebrations on the planet. As a Brazilian, I can also say that it represents much of what’s wonderful about our country—joy, cultural richness and musical diversity.

From Feb 7-12, YouTube will bring Carnival to the world for the third year in a row—giving you a front-row seat to the entire celebration on the YouTube Carnival channel.

The best Carnival is the one you choose, anytime, anywhere
What better way to experience a party the size of Brazil than by connecting to the rhythms and local traditions of six different cities—from Rio de Janeiro’s samba and Salvador’s axé to southern Brazil’s frevo. This year, you’ll be able to enjoy the festivities of Salvador, Rio de Janeiro, Olinda, São Luís do Maranhão, Ouro Preto and Pirenópolis.

Pick from a series of live feeds, camera angles and performances from the city of your choice, right in the middle of the party. Channel feeds are made possible by a combination of YouTube Live and Google+ Hangouts. In total, you can access a total of 150 hours of live Carnival feeds—from your laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Here’s a little more detail on some of the celebrations:

  • YouTube from Rio de Janeiro—From Feb 8-12, you can dance as much samba as you want, as you watch the attractions of the Circo Voador concert hall or check out the calmer celebrations of Terreirão do Samba, a venue that receives various samba musicians and afternoon concert sessions throughout the year.
  • YouTube from Salvador de Bahia—For the third year in a row, you’ll be able to check out the best of Salvador’s famed Carnival route, Barra-Ondina. However this time, you’ll be able to choose from four different camera feeds located throughout the Carnival route, so you don’t miss your favorite carnival band. Follow Salvador’s most famous carnival artists such as Claudia Leitte, Chiclete com Banana, Asa de Águia, Ivete Sangalo and others as their mobile stages advance through the circuit.

Google+ joins the party
Everyone knows that a good party generates great photos. That’s why we’ve also joined with photographers who will be uploading pictures daily of Carnaval’s best moments from 20 different Brazilian cities at Google+ Carnaval.

Find the entire agenda of this year’s Carnival events at To keep track of your favorite events and the artists you want to see, download the Carnaval 2013 extension from the Chrome Web Store, and make sure not to miss a beat.

Tour Brazil and prehispanic Mexican cities with more Street View imagery in Google Maps

Our ongoing effort to build great maps—ones that are accurate, easy to navigate and cover every corner of the world—continues to progress. Over the last few months, Google Maps has taken people everywhere from the Amazon to Antarctica, and we’re continuing to add imagery of even more places around globe. Beginning this week, you can dive even deeper into Latin America with new Street View imagery of Brazil and Mexico.

Street View first became available for Brazil in 2010, and as of this week, we’ve grown our collection of panoramic imagery to more than 70 cities throughout the country. You’ll now find colonial cities like Fortaleza, architecturally compelling cities like Brasilia and coastal landmarks like Recife, Natal and Salvador. You can even virtually travel to the west side of Brazil and visit Foz de Iguaçu, or if you’re planning an upcoming trip, preview the the area around your hotel as well as nearby shopping malls, historic monuments, restaurants and more. With so many upcoming events, like the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, we’re excited to share the riches of Brazil’s cities not only with tourists from around the world, but also with locals who might want to visit a city, neighborhood or landmark they’ve not yet experienced.

Street View imagery of Brazil available before mid-August 2012

Street View imagery of Brazil available beginning mid-August 2012

We’ve also introduced Street View imagery of 30 Mesoamerican archaeological sites in Mexico. Start your adventure by exploring Kukulkan’s Temple, a 1,100-year-old pyramid whose peak is reached by climbing 365 steps, one for each day of the year. When visitors clap their hands, the architectural acoustics at the base of the pyramid’s steps are designed to mimic the sound of the Quetzal, a bird that the Mayans regard as representative of their gods.

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Chichén Itzá, Mexico

Find hundreds of magical stories like this one by visiting the colossal pyramids of Teotihuacan, emblematic sites for the Mayans such as Chichen Itza or seaside archaeological jewels like Tulum. These and other famous sites from around the world can be seen in our Street View Gallery.

We’re always improving the comprehensiveness of our maps so you can experience more imagery from around the world. Whether you’re planning a visit to one of these areas or touring these locations from the comfort of your armchair, we hope you enjoy these captivating new images of Latin America.

The Surui Cultural Map

This week we're at Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. We're sharing a series of posts about our activities at the conference on the Green Blog; in this cross-post we've gone into more detail about one announcement taking place there. -Ed.

This week at the Rio+20 conference, the Surui tribe of the Brazilian Amazon are launching their Surui Cultural Map on Google Earth. This represents the culmination of a unique five-year collaboration between the Surui people and Google, which began in June 2007 when Chief Almir Surui first visited Google and proposed a partnership. The story of that visit, and the remarkable project that followed, are told in a new short documentary also launching here at Rio+20: “Trading Bows and Arrows for Laptops: Carbon and Culture.”

Training the Surui youth as mapmakers
Over three visits to the Surui territory between 2008 and last month, our Google Earth Outreach team taught Surui youth how to take photos and videos and to collect stories from their elders (such as from the time before first contact with the modern world). Then they learned how to upload these to the Google cloud using tools like Picasa, Docs, and YouTube. From there we used Spreadsheet Mapper 3 to bind it all together to create a Google Earth KML of their map, which contains almost 300 sites.

Map highlights
Through this project, my team has learned that maps are an expression of culture. Mapmakers refer to the “atomic element” of a map as a point of interest, or POI. The Surui mapmakers created POIs that reflect their traditional culture’s close interdependency with their forest home. So instead of hotels and gas stations, on the Surui map you’ll find the locations of parrots and toucans, or the three kinds of trees necessary to make their bows and arrows. You’ll learn where to find the Acai trees (which provide delicious fruit as well as the thatch for their maloca longhouses), the locations of good hunting grounds for the porcao (wild pig), and where the jaguar roam (jaguars have particular spiritual significance to the Surui people and figure in their creation myth). There are also sites and stories of historical battles with other tribes and with the white settlers who started arriving after “first contact” in 1969. Here’s an example POI for the Jenipapo tree:

The text reads: “Jenipapo fruit is produced by the jenipapo tree, which reaches twenty feet high. From the meaty part of the green fruit, an ink is extracted with which human skin can be painted. This makes the fruit very important for the Surui, because the art of painting is always included in everything that they do, especially in celebrations and rituals. The art of painting is one of the things most valued by Paiter. Each occasion calls for a different type of painting.”

Here’s a rich storytelling tour of the Surui Cultural Map, narrated by Chief Almir and the Surui youth who were the star mapmakers:

As Chief Almir says at the conclusion of the Surui people’s Google Earth tour:
Without the forest, our entire culture would disappear. And without our culture, the forest would have disappeared a long time ago. It’s important to live in a sustainable way and to strengthen those whose livelihoods directly depend on a healthy ecosystem. We have a 50-year sustainability plan, which includes solutions for our territory. An example is the Surui Carbon Project, which uses technology to monitor the carbon stock of forest and trade it in the market for carbon credits. Our hope is that we can come together virtually and in person, and that we can find and implement solutions together.
It’s been a great honor for us to work with the Surui people and to experience their world view, especially to see how they blend their traditional knowledge and culture with modern technology. We’ve learned from Chief Almir that partnerships, consensus and collaboration are central; in that spirit, we’d like to thank our partners on this project: ECAM, Kanindé and Brazilian filmmaker Denise Zmekhol, who has documented the life of the Surui people for more than twenty years.

You can watch a video of the  tour or download it in English or Portuguese. To learn more about the Surui tribe, known as “Paiter Surui,” please visit

(Cross-posted from the Green Blog)

A world of opportunity at the G(irls)20 Summit

We’re pleased to have Farah Mohamed join us today to talk about her organization, the G(irls)20 Summit, of which Google is a proud sponsor. The mission of the G(irls)20 Summit is to showcase how girls and women can impact a country’s economic prosperity, political stability and social innovation. - Ed.

Research shows that investing in girls and women can help the global economy. Consider the following examples:
  • According to Plan UK, an extra year of education increases a girl’s income by 10 to 20% and is a significant step on the road to breaking the cycle of poverty.
  • In Kenya, adolescent pregnancies cost the economy $500 million per year, while investing in girls could potentially add $32 billion to the economy (NIKE Foundation, 2009, Girl Effect).
  • If men and women had equal influence in decision-making , an additional 1.7 million children would be adequately nourished in sub-Saharan Africa (International Labour Organization, 2009).
These are significant estimates, and they highlight a real opportunity for global economic growth. That’s why the G(irls)20 Summit is working with Google and many other corporate and foundation partners to empower girls and women.

Launched in 2010 at the Clinton Global Initiative, the G(irls)20 Summit precedes the G20 Leaders Summit, and brings together one girl aged 18 to 20 from each G20 country plus the African Union. The delegates attend workshops and participate in panel discussions to come up with tangible, scalable solutions for how to engage and empower girls and women around the world. Then, at the end of the summit, they lead a press conference and present a set of recommendations for the G20 leaders to consider.

This year, the Summit will take place in Mexico City from May 28-31. But the impact of the Summit will be ongoing, thanks in part to the power of the Internet and social media. Take past Summit participants July Lee of the U.S. and Noma Sibayoni of South Africa, who launched Write With A Smile to encourage teens to continue with their education. Or Riana Shah of India who co-founded Independent Thought & Social Action (ITSA India), an education reform organization that aims to empower socially responsible youth leaders. And the African Union’s Lilian Kithiri continues to persevere creating awareness around reproductive health to communities living in the rural areas of Kenya.

There are a few ways you can experience the Summit:
Whether you’re a girl, boy, woman or man, we all have a role to play in empowering girls and women. As UN Under Secretary-General Michelle Bachelet once said, “gender equality and women’s empowerment are goals in their own right and central to all other goals—must be more than a mantra. It must become a lived reality for women and men and boys and girls in all countries.”

Brazil’s Carnival goes social with Google

While you may have heard of Brazil’s Carnival (or Carnaval), not everyone will have the chance to fly to Brazil to experience what are arguably the largest annual street festivals (+ music concerts + dance parties + culture fests) in the world.

Every year, Brazilian cities compete to be the country’s top Carnival destination: This year, we’re bringing you the sights, sounds and energy of Brazilian Carnival directly from the streets of Salvador (Brazil’s first capital and one of the oldest cities in the the Americas) through Google+, YouTube and Orkut.

From February 16 to 21—the height of the festival and the peak of Brazil’s summer—you’ll be able to:
  • Watch the festivities wherever you are in the world on the Carnival YouTube Channel. Starting Thursday, February 16, you’ll have access to everything from a live transmission of the streetfest to videos of bands who have traveled to Salvador to host the party. You’ll even be able to chat with other YouTube users who are watching the party with you from around the world through a map we’ve integrated just for the occasion.
  • Chat with bands and watch live interviews on Google+. Chat with some of the Brazilian bands who have joined the festivities in real time by sending questions via Google+ and Orkut. You’ll also be able to watch celebrity interviews running live throughout the week on the AoVivo (live) Google+ Page and transmitted simultaneously on YouTube and Orkut.

Even if you didn’t have a chance to get a plane ticket to Brazil, there’s no reason not to experience the energy of this year’s 2012 Carnival. Find out more about how you can be part of the party on +AoVivo, Orkut or on our Carnival YouTube Channel.

(Cross-posted from the YouTube blog)

Space Jam

Code Jam is one of our most famous traditions. Programmers compete to hack and solve complex programming challenges in a very short time, and the winners are awarded fame, cash prizes and the opportunity to intern at Google.

Diego Gavinowich from Buenos Aires was a finalist in our Latin America Code Jam, and joined us for a winter internship three months ago (missing summer break in Argentina!). Since he loves astronomy and web hacking, we gave Diego a new Code Jam challenge: code a web version of Google Sky by the end of his time with us.

Well, he did it... with the help of other engineers jamming along on their 20% time. We're very pleased to tell you that Google Sky is now available on the web at You can search for planets, listen to Earth & Sky podcasts, watch some beautiful Hubble telescope images, or explore historical maps of the sky from the comfort of your browser.

Sky in Google Earth, which launched last August, was originally available to our 350 million Google Earth users. This release brings the universe to every browser and makes Sky accessible to just about anyone with an Internet connection — from school children to professional astronomers — in 26 different languages.

To learn more about Google Sky web edition, watch this short video, and read the full story on the Google Lat Long blog.

We'll miss you, Diego!

YouTube in 9 more domains

The YouTube community began life speaking English, but thanks to the uniquely expressive medium of video, today there is a global village of content makers and viewers. With a noteworthy number of YouTube visitors now coming from outside the U.S., it's high time we go multilingual.

Today at a Google press event in Paris, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen are announcing the launch of nine new domains in Brazil, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Ireland, and the UK.

In response to many requests, each new site is fully translated and localized for each country including content (Featured Videos, Director Videos, Promotions), as well as the interfaces, search, user support, and such community features as video ratings, sharing, and content flagging. And these new localized versions are built using Google search technology, so you can quickly find more of what you want to see. Perhaps best of all, you can continue to use, or move to one of these localized sites -- and switch seamlessly between the two. Happy creating, viewing and sharing!

Update: Removed link to user content.

TechnoServe in Tanzania supports efforts to promote economic development in developing countries. From time to time we invite guest bloggers from grantee organizations to tell us about their work.

Today in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, TechnoServe and launched a national business plan competition called "Believe, Begin, Become". The program is designed to help Tanzanian entrepreneurs develop skills, obtain seed or expansion capital and establish the networks that help transform their business ideas into successful enterprises that create jobs and other income sources that transform the lives of all Tanzanians.

We know, from our experience in Latin America and other African countries, what this kind of program can provide to entrepreneurs, who gain not only immediate benefits but a crucial business network that carries on long after the competition ends.

Our Organizing Committee colleague David Bulengo puts it this way: “The network of professionals and business leaders involved with Believe Begin Become will allow a new generation of young entrepreneurs the chance to learn from their experience and to create wonderful business opportunities.”

If you would like to get involved, please get in touch.