Sunday, May 31, 2009

Support Google's plan to save the earth

In case you haven't noticed, I just put a new widget in my blog's sidebar. I call it the Google Day Counter, and I created it to try to motivate Google to proceed with its charitable contest, Project 10 to the 100. For those who don't want to follow the link, Project 10 to the 100 is a contest Google launched to spend ten million dollars toward ideas that are beneficial to the whole human race. Here was Google's plan: solicit big, earth-saving ideas from normal people, pick the best 100 of those ideas, let normal people vote for the best twenty of those ideas, and spend ten million dollars to launch best few of those twenty ideas. It was a good plan, if a bit un-democratic, but the execution has been problematic.

Google's initial goal was to collect entries until October 20 and announce the 100 finalists on January 27. However, due to the incredibly large number of proposals they received (over 150,000), they had to delay the announcement until March 17. Unfortunately, they had miscalculated again, and the announcement was delayed indefinitely.

The delays mattered to me because I submitted an idea to the contest. My idea was simple: design and develop an open source speech augmentation application for people who can't speak. The application would allow mute people to communicate by clicking on icons or typing in a box on the screen. This software is necessary because the de facto speech augmentation software, Say-it! SAM PC, is far too expensive for many mutes. My plan would ensure that nobody is too poor to communicate with their friends and family.

Because of my submitted proposal, I waited in eager anticipation for March 17, Google Day. When the day finally arrived and the final announcement was delayed indefinitely, I started jokingly measuring the date in relation to Google Day. If I was asked for the date on April 18, I would have responded "April 18, Google Day plus 32." Now that the date has passed Google Day +70, I'm worried that Google has placed Project 10 to the 100 on the back burner and that the project selection could take another six months.

Personally, I believe that that ten million dollars toward big-idea innovation would be most beneficial right now, in the middle of the economic crisis. Thanks to recent deflation, ten million dollars would probably accomplish far more now than six months from now. That's why I've decided to create the Google Day Counter widget and release it to the blogosphere. If you use Blogger to display your opinions to the world, you can add one of the widgets below to show your support.

...but if you use any other blogging system, you can simply cut-and-paste the code below into your sidebar div or *shudder* table cell.

<style type="text/css">
#googledaycounterdiv a {
font-size: 2em;
font-family: Arial, sans;
letter-spacing: -1px;
font-weight: bold;
color: rgb(0, 153, 0) !important;
<script type="text/javascript" language="Javascript">
// addEvent by Scott Andrew LePera
function addEvent(elm,evType,fn,useCapture){
   elm.addEventListener(evType, fn, useCapture);
   return true;
 } else if (elm.attachEvent) {
   var r = elm.attachEvent('on' + evType, fn);
   return r;
 } else {
   elm['on' + evType] = fn;
function googleDayCounterInit() {
 var googleDay = new Date('March 17, 2009');
 var today = new Date();
 var elapsed = Math.floor((today.getTime() - googleDay.getTime()) / 86400000);
 var elapsedDiv = document.getElementById('elapsed');
addEvent(window, 'load', googleDayCounterInit, false);
<div id="googledaycounterdiv"><a href="">Google Day +<span id='elapsed'>?</span></a></div>

I hope you'll join me in prodding Google to devote its time and money to finally launching Project 10 to the 100.