It’s launched!

One of my photos of the fireworks display from the
27th Kanagawa-Shimbun Fireworks Festival
Those words defined the start of the fireworks display that I watched from the Tokyo oceanfront piers last week. Fireworks are a traditional Japanese summer activity and occur nearly every weekend in August all across town. Those words also accompanied the unveiling of a new feature I've worked on at YouTube. For me, the two words also mixes excitement and anticipation about sharing a new feature for YouTube’s global audience—online caption editing.

This feature expands on YouTube’s caption management system, letting you make edits and changes directly to captions online instead of making an entirely new caption file. And the work doesn’t end with the launch - I have to monitor user feedback and logs to confirm that people are actually using the tool.

A week ago, I traveled to YouTube's San Bruno headquarters to meet with the team—including those who work on YouTube player and the folks that help video creators manage their library. When you handle 72 hours of video uploaded every minute and 4 billion hours of video watched by users per month, there’s a significant impact that a single improvement can have, and lots of priorities to juggle. For example, my project required me to work with user experience designers to craft an intuitive workflow, coordinate efforts to ensure that engineering goes smoothly, and test the end features to make sure they work for users. To me, it felt like trying to be a concert conductor in a noisy field.

I could only understand about 20% of what this elderly gentleman was saying
because he had a strong accent, but he survived the tsunami that destroyed his
village. Everyone from the village survived, fortunately.
On a non-work related note, one of the most memorable things to happen during my couple months interning at YouTube was a trip to the northern part of Japan, which was ravaged by last year’s earthquake and tsunami and is still trying desperately to recover. GoogleServe is a project that lets Googlers take time off to participate in volunteering activities, but with everyone’s busy schedules, we decided this year to have the volunteer work occur over the weekend. We jumped into a chartered overnight bus to Matsushima, where we spent two days helping fishermen by collecting bamboo shoots for raftmaking material, tying ropes, and stacking shells that serve as the feeding spot for oysters. There was opportunity to listen to folks from the community, which reminded me that there was still so much do in the northern part of Japan. Currently, we’re trying to see if there are ways Googlers can use their technology know-how to provide long terms sustainability to the region.

- Rio

Fun Google Fact: GoogleServe started in 2008 as an employee initiative and has since become a “Global Week of Service”. This year over 5,000 Google employees donated their time to everything from computer literacy and refurbishing computers to beach cleaning and Hangouts on Air with students from around the world. You can see a video from one of the first projects in 2008 out of the Milan office where employees helped paint goalposts with kids.

Posted by Jessica Safir, University Programs