Mid-Week Miscellany: Two New From Google

Every so often — it seems to happen as Spring approaches — I ask your indulgence as I leave the law track to wander off to some shiny thing or other that pleases me so much that I need to write about it on Slaw. I ask it now, in order to point you to a pair of developments at Google that might just please you while you wait impatiently for Winter to end.

If you enjoy food, you may cook. And if you cook, you may occasionally want to glance at a recipe. It used to be that you’d throw a couple of key terms into Google and scan the results for recipes (or maybe you were smart enough to add the word [recipe] to your search terms). Now it’s easier and better. Google’s added a “Recipes” filter to the side menu, just below “Shopping.” So now your search for [rutabega] with the Recipe filter throws up hundreds of yummy options, such as Mashed Rutabaga with Maple Syrup and Bourbon.

But it gets better (as promised). You can filter your results further by three facets: including or excluding a number of other suggested ingredients (“tilapia” and rutabega?), choosing preparation time, and selecting a desired calorie count.

Of course, this means that people posting recipes are going to want to mark them up in such a way that Google can work its magic on them. And there’s a page for recipe publishers explaining how to do that. (Now if we could only get courts and lawyers to mark up their web material with as much gusto, we could search for law faster and better. But that’s digressing… )

Rather more marvellous is the fairly new Google Art Project. Akin to Google Book, the new “scanning” project involves publication of something like 1,000 high resolution images of works of art from (currently) seventeen of the world’s great museums. It’s unlikely that you’ve seen art on the web with such clarity as this, and the ability to zoom in to examine a work’s detail is amazing.

You might start with a look at the Visitor Guide, which explains the mechanics, such as how to wander around some of the museums (using Google Street View) or how to store your own collection of works or views of portions of works.

Just as maps are not the territory and recipes aren’t edible, so an image on your computer is not the work of art. But if you’re unlikely to make it to the Museum Kempa in Prague or the Uffizi Gallery in Florence anytime soon, you may enjoy this next best thing. The beauty shines through.

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