A little Google history from the Internet Archive


I first heard about Google in June, 1999. But Google was actually up and running early the previous year.  Check out this Google Friends Newsletter for May 18, 1998 (originally a Yahoo group!) in which “Larry and Sergey” wrote:

Google has now been up for over a month with the current database and we would like to hear back from you. How do you like the search results? What do you think of the new logo and formatting? Do the new features work for you?  (Read more of these early messages in the Google Friends Archive.)

Little did these two young guys know that ten years later they would be billionnaires and that “Googling” would be an activity shared daily by hundreds of million people!

Check out this paper by two PhD candidates:
The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine by Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page, Computer Science Department, Stanford University
In this paper, we present Google, a prototype of a large-scale search engine which makes heavy use of the structure present in hypertext. Google is designed to crawl and index the Web efficiently and produce much more satisfying search results than existing systems. The prototype with a full text and hyperlink database of at least 24 million pages is available at http://google.stanford.edu/

The screen shot at the top of this page is from the November 11, 1998 entry in the list of Google pages archived by the Internet Archive. It’s fascinating to browse through these archived pages and see how Google has developed through the years.

Below is a screen shot from the December 2, 1998 page; click on the image to see the whole shot. (Already the trademark I’m feeling lucky button was there.)


Read the description of the company from that date, and keep in mind where Google is today!

The Company
Google Inc. was founded in 1998 by Sergey Brin and Larry Page to make it easier to find high-quality information on the web. The company is based on three years of research in web search and data mining done by the founders in the Stanford University Computer Science Department. Google Inc.’s headquarters are located in scenic downtown Palo Alto, California.  Google Inc. is not at present a publicly traded company, and we are currently unable to speculate on whether or when our privately-held status might change.

The Name
10^100 (a gigantic number) is a googol, but we liked the spelling “Google” better. We picked the name “Google” because our goal is to make huge quantities of information available to everyone. And it sounds cool and has only six letters.

More highlights:
In December 2000 Google added the Advanced Search and the Google Web Directory.
On September 13, 2001, Google offered condolences.
In December 2004 Google was still including numbers of pages searched: Searching 8,058,044,651 web pages

I always look forward to the images that mark special occasions. Here is Google’s tribute to February 29, 2008:


Check out the earliest Google logos/stickers.  Included is BackRub, a pre-Google search engine on which Larry and Sergey collaborated in 1996.

See also A Google Scholar PrimerA Google Primer; Guess-the-Google; Reaction to Googling for a diagnosis, a recent BMJ study 

Web Resources / Search Tools: all posts

Last updated November 29, 2008

Drug Information Portal: U.S. National Library of Medicine

drugs.jpg Drug Information Portal: Quick access to more than 12,000 selected drugs

This new portal is produced by the United States National Libary of Medicine. It is one-stop shopping for drug information, and your enquiry searches many souces at once. Here is a list of resources searched by Drug Information Portal:

See also The Dietary Supplements Labels Database: brands, ingredients, and references; Drug Information Databases: an analysis
Here are the databases ranked in the above analysis, from highest to lowest, based on composite scores:
Clinical Pharmacology, DRUGDEX® System, Lexi-Comp Online, Facts & Comparisons 4.0, Epocrates Online Premium, RxList.com [free], and Epocrates Online Free.

Museum of Bad Art (MOBA™)

lucy.jpg  Pictured at left is Lucy In the Field With Flowers, the single painting planted the seed that grew into MOBA™. MOBA stands for Museum of Bad Art, and it was founded in the fall of 1993. Its motto is ART TOO BAD TO BE IGNORED.

MOBA™ is a community-based, private institution dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition and celebration of bad art in all its forms and in all its glory.

View the Portraiture Collection, the Landscape Collection, or Unseen Forces. Or view individual works from the online collection. I particularly enjoyed reading about MOBA’s Drive Thru Gallery and Carwash. Great photos!

Expenditures and health status among adults with back and neck problems

back.jpg  The study below was just published in the February 13 issue of JAMA [subscription required].

Read about the study in MedPage Today and in Medical News Today.

Martin BI, Deyo RA, Mirza SK, Turner JA, Comstock BA, Hollingworth W et al. Expenditures and health status among adults with back and neck problems. JAMA 2008; 299(6):656-664.
Context: Back and neck problems are among the symptoms most commonly encountered in clinical practice. However, few studies have examined national trends in expenditures for back and neck problems or related these trends to health status measures.
Objectives: To estimate inpatient, outpatient, emergency department, and pharmacy expenditures related to back and neck problems in the United States from 1997 through 2005 and to examine associated trends in health status.
Design and Setting: Age- and sex-adjusted analysis of the nationally representative Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) from 1997 to 2005 using complex survey regression methods. The MEPS is a household survey of medical expenditures weighted to represent national estimates. Respondents were US adults (> 17 years) who self-reported back and neck problems (referred to as “spine problems” based on MEPS descriptions and International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification definitions).
Main Outcome Measures: Spine-related expenditures for health services (inflation-adjusted); annual surveys of self-reported health status.
Results: National estimates were based on annual samples of survey respondents with and without self-reported spine problems from 1997 through 2005. (See the abstract on the JAMA site.)
Conclusions: In this survey population, self-reported back and neck problems accounted for a large proportion of health care expenditures. These spine-related expenditures have increased substantially from 1997 to 2005, without evidence of corresponding improvement in self-assessed health status.

Defining Characteristics of Educational Competencies

meded.gif  Here is a new review article from the March 2008 issue of Medical Education [full text by subscription]:

Albanese MA, Mejicano G, Mullan P, Kokotailo P, Gruppen L. Defining characteristics of educational competencies. Medical Education 2008;42(3):248–255.

Context: Doctor competencies have become an increasing focus of medical education at all levels. However, confusion exists regarding what constitutes a competency versus a goal, objective or outcome.

Objectives: This article attempts to identify the characteristics that define a competency and proposes criteria that can be applied to distinguish between competencies, goals, objectives and outcomes.

Methods: We provide a brief overview of the history of competencies and compare competencies identified by international medical education organisations:

Based upon this review and comparisons, as well as on definitions of competencies from the literature and theoretical and conceptual analyses of the underpinnings of competencies, the authors develop criteria that can serve to distinguish competencies from goals, objectives and outcomes.

Results: We propose 5 criteria which can be used to define a competency:

  • it focuses on the performance of the end-product or goal-state of instruction
  • it reflects expectations that are external to the immediate instructional programme
  • it is expressible in terms of measurable behaviour
  • it uses a standard for judging competence that is not dependent upon the performance of other learners
  • it informs learners, as well as other stakeholders, about what is expected of them.

Conclusions: Competency-based medical education is likely to be here for the foreseeable future. Whether or not these 5 criteria, or some variation of them, become the ultimate defining criteria for what constitutes a competency, they represent an essential step towards clearing the confusion that reigns.

This article is cited by:
Govaerts MJB. Educational competencies or education for professional competence? Medical Education 2008;42(3):234–236.

A survey of rural medical education strategies throughout the medical education continuum in Canada

countrydoc.jpg   This article by Dr. Vernon Curran and colleagues was published in late 2007 in the French journal Cahiers de Sociologie et de Demographie Medicales [full text by subscription]. This issue contains several interesting articles on the state of health care in rural Canada.

Curran VR, Fleet L, Pong RW, Bornstein S, Jong M, Strasser RP, Tesson G.  A survey of rural medical education strategies throughout the medical education continuum in Canada. Cah Sociol Demogr Med 2007 Oct-Dec;47(4):445-68.
Abstract: In many countries the sustainability of rural health care systems is being challenged by a shortage of rural physicians and difficulties in recruiting and retaining physicians in rural practice. Research does suggest that specific medical education strategies can be introduced to enhance rural physician recruitment and retention initiatives. The purpose of this paper is to summarize the current strategies of Canadian rural medical education programs. A survey of all Canadian medical schools was undertaken to profile specific programs and activities at the undergraduate, postgraduate, and continuing medical education/continuing professional development (CME/CPD) levels. The majority of medical schools reported either mandatory or elective rural medicine placement/learning experiences during undergraduate medical education, as well as Rural Family Medicine streams or programs as components of postgraduate medical education. The majority of medical schools reported that they provide clinical traineeships to enhance clinical competencies in rural medicine as well as CME outreach programming, including the use of telehealth or distance learning technologies. Canadian medical schools all have substantial programs covering the full range of approaches found in the literature to help recruit and retain rural physicians. Not surprisingly, the most extensive programs are found in medical schools that have a specific rural mandate.