Teaming up with Europeana to bring Europe’s culture online

It was a natural marriage. Our Google Cultural Institute based in Paris is devoted to partnering with institutions around the world to allow online access to art, archives and other, often previously hard-to-find culture. Europeana, launched in 2009, represents a bold European project bringing together more than 2,000 museums, archives, and other institutions, with their rich collections of millions of books, paintings, films and other objects.

Given these complementary missions, it is with great pleasure that we just have launched Europeana’s first exhibit on our Cultural Institute. Curated by the Austrian National Library, the new virtual exhibition is part of Europeana’s 1914-1918 project and represents the first Austrian contribution to our own Cultural Institute’s First World War channel.

The Austrian library exhibition guides visitors through the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph’s manifestos, from announcements for mobilisation, to administering shortages, to dealing with prisoners of war and refugees. “Putting the content online ensures that all of this history is preserved for future generations,” said Wiebe de Jager of Europeana. “Partnerships with prestigious platforms such as the Google Cultural Institute is one way to effectively share with people our common history that defined who we are and what we do.”


Online exhibition “To My Peoples!”, by Europeana in association with Austrian National Library

It’s a tremendous undertaking to bring Europe’s rich cultural heritage online, one that can only be achieved by both private and public effort. As this collaboration shows, both Europeana and Google share similar visions – allowing people around the world to explore Europe’s cultural and scientific heritage from prehistory to the modern day.

Posted by Simon Rein, Google Cultural Institute, Program Manage
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Take a look at this Easter Bunny

Albrecht Dürer’s masterpiece the Hare is a favourite Easter image, and today it serves as a model for chocolate bunnies. The Google Cultural Institute is celebrating this season by today releasing a gigapixel image of the Hare. Gigapixel images contain billions of pixels, that’s around 1,000 times more detailed than your average digital camera.

Albrecht Dürer: Hare, 1502,

The watercolor painting is extremely light sensitive — so much so that the museum who owns it, the Albertina in Austria, only can show it to the public every few years. From now on, thanks to the Internet, everyone can experience the magic of Dürer’s technique at the most incredible level of detail at any time.

 Zoom to a detail on Google Art Project

Dürer painted the Hare in 1502, rendering the animal with an almost photographic accuracy that is extraordinary today as it was more than 500 years ago. It is the artist’s most famous study of nature and one of the finest in Western art. The hare’s fur spreads out in different directions and is spotted in light and dark patches. Dürer not only managed to create a detailed, almost scientific, study of the animal, but also used nuanced brushwork to paint the finest hairs of its coat, infusing the picture with warmth, light and life.

The animal’s watchful eyes, vibrating whiskers, and alert ears give the impression that the hare might hop out off the paper at any moment. An interesting detail to explore using the zoom feature is the the hare’s right eye which appears to reflect the interior of a room or form the shape of a cross. According to the Albertina curators, the image might be a reflection of the artist’s studio, or perhaps the Christian symbol of the cross which would lend religious significance to this image from nature. Take a look, and come up with your own ideas.

Posted by Simon Rein, Program Manager, Google Cultural Institute
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An Austrian star of European computing

Google started as a graduate school project. So it’s apt that the next film in our computing heritage series pays homage to the work of another student team, nearly 60 years ago in Austria.

In the mid 1950’s, computer design was in the midst of a major transition, going from vacuum tubes to transistors. Transistors performed a similar function electronically, but generated less heat and were a fraction of the size, allowing machines to be made that were both smaller and more powerful.

Heinz Zemanek, then an assistant professor at the Vienna University of Technology, had long been interested in computers. In 1956, he enlisted a team of students to build one based on this new transistor technology.

Zemanek’s project didn’t have university backing, so the team relied on donations. One student’s work was sponsored by Konrad Zuse, the German computer pioneer, on the understanding he would join Zuse’s company after completing his doctorate. Additional money came from an Austrian bankers association, thanks to connections Zemanek had made through his role leading Austria’s Boy Scouts. Overall more than 35 companies contributed materials, in particular Philips, who donated all the transistors and diodes. The only drawback was the transistors were relatively slow, originally designed for hearing aids.

At the time, leading U.S. machines were named after types of wind, such as MIT’s Whirlwind and RCA Laboratory’s Typhoon. In a gentle nod to this, Zemanek nicknamed his computer Mailüfterl, meaning “May Breeze.” As he joked (PDF): “We are not going to produce… any of those big American storms, but we will have a very nice little Viennese spring breeze!”

On May 27, 1958 the Mailüfterl ran its first calculation and became mainland Europe’s first fully transistorized computer—and one of the earliest in the world. It remained at the university for its first few years, financed in part by the European Research Office of the American Army. In 1960 Zemanek signed a contract with IBM, and in September 1961 the Mailüfterl was moved to a new research laboratory in Vienna that IBM created for Zemanek and his team.

Today the Mailüfterl is on display at the Technical Museum in Vienna—a fitting reminder of Austria’s time at the vanguard of European computing.

Posted by Wolfgang Fasching-Kapfenberger, Communications & Public Affairs Manager, Austria

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Get an All Access music pass on Google Play

With millions upon millions of songs out there, it can be a daunting task to figure out what to choose. Sometimes you just want to sit back, press play and hear something new. Starting today, you can do just that. All Access, our new monthly music subscription service in Google Play, is now available in Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain and the UK.

All Access provides an unlimited pass to a huge library of music on all your devices — from all the major record companies, as well as top local and independent labels.

The new service lets you create an ad-free, interactive radio station from any song or artist. You can add, remove or re-order your station and see what’s coming next. Or browse recommendations from our expert music team and explore songs by genre. The “Listen Now” tab puts artists and radio stations we think you’ll like front and center allowing you to start listening the minute you open your library.

When millions of songs just aren’t enough, Google Play Music lets you combine our collection with your own collection. You can store 20,000 songs for free online, and listen to them alongside the All Access catalogue on any Android device, or via the web at play.google.com. You can even ‘pin’ specific albums and playlists songs so they’re available offline.

Try it today for free for the first month and — as a special introductory offer — pay only EUR7.99 each month after that. Regular pricing for those who sign up after September 15 will be EUR9.99 a month, with a 30-day free trial.

With today’s launch, Google Play moves one step closer to your ultimate digital entertainment destination, where you can find, enjoy and share your favourite apps, games, books, movies, magazines, TV shows and music on your Android phone or tablet. Go ahead and start discovering a whole new world of music.

Posted by Paul Joyce, product manager for Google Play Music
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Music to your ears! Five more countries get Google Play Music

Today music lovers in Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg and Portugal can join their European neighbours in the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy, and buy their favourite songs and albums on Google Play, our digital entertainment destination for Android devices and the web.

Music first launched on Google Play in Europe in November 2012, and the fast rollout to more countries today is due to the multi-territorial licensing process, as recommended by the European Commission last year. We have 14 multi-territorial licenses for composition rights covering Europe and representing the vast majority of the world’s music, and have recently welcomed the members of AKM/AUME in Austria, SABAM in Belgium, SPA in Portugal, and IMRO in Ireland into our growing list of author’s society partners.

Google Play makes it easy for you to buy your favourite songs and albums, and instantly add them to your music library. You can add up to 20,000 songs from your existing music collection to Google Play instantly, and listen to your music from any computer or Android phone or tablet, even when you’re offline.

To coincide with Google Play Music’s launch in these five new countries, we’re also launching artist hub – a platform for independent artists to sell their music directly to fans. In the artist hub, self-published artists can create a profile, upload their music files, suggest a retail price, and sell their music on Google Play.

According to a Nielsen/Billboard’s recent Music Industry Report, overall music purchases are at a record high, driven by digital sales. Sales of digital albums were up 14 per cent in 2012, while sales of digital tracks grew by five per cent last year, meaning overall music sales were up more than three per cent compared to 2011.

As people’s love affair with great music continues, so too will our commitment to bringing Google Play to more countries around the world.

Posted by Sami Valkonen, head of international music partnerships, Google Play
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