Last Updated: October 12, 2015 1

What is Google Groups?

Found In: Tools

When Brin and Page cofounded Google fourteen years ago in 1998, they were less concerned about making billions of dollars and more focused on the technologies they were working with. What began as a novel idea to download the entire Internet as it then existed to Page’s computer, then became an in-depth analysis of the characteristics of all the web sites. Page and Brin sought to determine what relevant search terms could be associated with each site, and what rating of this relevance could be assigned to it. This process invoked major technological advances which most people know nothing about, including how to build the world’s largest computer network comprising hundreds of thousands of personal computers all joined to work in harmony together to provide the computing power needed to process the billions of searches each month.

With continuing successes from the get go, the organization grew to embrace a very different corporate work ethic compared to most corporations. The best brains throughout the world were recruited from the best colleges and from the best of breed corporations like Microsoft when they could be head hunted. Part of this massive recruitment drive was the mandate that all employees could and should twenty per cent of their working time to projects entirely of their own choosing. From all of this effort working on projects totally unrelated to Google’s primary goal of developing search engine technologies came a plethora of ancillary products which in their own right could reach production stages of implementation. Page personally overseas the prioritizing of the list of the best one hundred projects, to short list for direct investment of all time and resources to fully develop the best twenty of these projects. Google Groups is one such of these projects spawned from the twenty per cent of free time.

What Google Groups is All About

To understand Google Groups, it is important to know something about the history and formation of the Internet itself. Originally funded by the United States military, Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) was created, As the world’s first packet switching network of computers linked together across large geographic areas, its purpose was enable researchers supporting the defense effort to be able share files, communicate by email and more rapidly collaborate on the growth of knowledge.

From 1979, “Usenet” was introduced which consisted of like a bulletin board service where users could create a new group discussion topic and group members could access the posts of other group members. The information was carried on news group servers, and the network of these servers would update each other with new posts that have been made. With the opening up of ARPANET to what we now know to be the Internet, came the advent of the Internet Service Provider (ISP). Clients connected to the Internet via their ISP of choice, and all ISPs connected to each other via larger backbone connections. At each ISP level, they all had the option to set the policies on their news group servers. Some ISPs had a liberal approach to carry all possible news groups. Others took more limited and controlled policies to greatly limit the potential number of news groups, and when they would expire the posts to them. As can be imagined, a large number of news groups with a long time line set for when to expire posts, the news servers could over time grow to need very significant computer hardware resources.

Google Groups is Massive

What Google groups has done is use the massive power of their world’s largest computer network to carry all news groups, and all seven hundred million posts that have been made to these news groups over the last 20 years. Further, Google Groups has built into web browser access a very easy interface to use when accessing the information contained in them. This includes being able to set up a new group quickly and efficiently, being able to invite people by email message that the new group has been created and how to access. The Google Groups interface is fantastic at helping people doing research to dig back through the 700,000,000 posts that have been made over the last twenty years to find relevant information quickly and efficiently. That is after all what makes Google great; the speed with which its massive computer network can find data relevant to any search term.

As we expect from all of Google’s applications and service, the interface is uncluttered and intuitive to use. And so whether you want to search for information already posted, or wanting to create a place to collect information from many contributors, Google Groups is the perfect answer. Of course it is totally free to use. You simply use your Gmail email address to log in and the menu is very simple to follow.

Google Groups is all about helping people to connect with each other, with a central repository for collecting, accessing and sharing information. It is language independent meaning that google has no problems with you collaborating in Farsi, Chinese, English or any other language. It works with all the usual browsers like Microsoft Internet Explorer (version 6 and above), FireFox 1.5 and above, Safari 2.0.03 and above and Google’s very own Chrome of course. You will need to have “cookies enabled” to use the service. Javascript forms no part of the system access, and so this can be disabled without effect.
So many people these days limit their search thinking to only include the web; web sites purpose built by one author. Blogs go some way towards including the input for the audience, but even blogs are always dominated by the web site owner. Google Groups has many benefits of collecting the group’s wisdom on the subject matter. If a search of the web hasn’t found the answer sought, it makes sense to then access Google Groups.