Google is launching yet another website. It is designed to be a forum to discuss off-the-wall ideas and cutting edge technologies. Is this Google's answer to TED.com?
While Google seems to have entered a phase of shutting down really useful things it also seems to have started opening things that seem to have a more dubious value. This could be a clear sign that the techies have lost out to the marketing people who really don't have much of a clue.
Solve For <x> is the latest about-to-launch, semi-PR site. What this will turn out to be is anyone's guess, but it is unlikely to have the value of say App Inventor or any of the projects killed off as part of the Google Labs closure. Even the title of the web page suggests that it is design, rather than sense, that is responsible for its creation. After all, who would put x in angle brackets without thinking about what it means?
The purpose of the site isn't 100% clear but its mission statement is:
Solve for X is a place where the curious can go to hear and discuss radical technology ideas for solving global problems. Radical in the sense that the solutions could help billions of people. Radical in the sense that the audaciousness of the proposals makes them sound like science fiction. And radical in the sense that there is some real technology breakthrough on the horizon to give us all hope that these ideas could really be brought to life.
More succinctly it states:
Solve for X is intended to be a forum to encourage and amplify technology-based moonshot thinking and teamwork.
This makes it sound like something that might challenge TED.com, the website that posts videos on "ideas worth spreading".
If you look behind the main splash screen you can also see the title "What is a solve for X talk", which again reinforces the idea that this is something educational that is intended to boost Google's image.
At the moment all you can do is sign up by providing your email address so that you can be informed when the site is up and running. Curiosity may have killed the cat but in this case finding out more seems harmless.
Watch the overly slick and vacuous promo video for more clues.
It is a shame that Google is avoiding supporting real solutions like Sky Map and making noise rather than substance, but we will have to wait to see if this evaluation is correct when we find out what x is.