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Google Doodle: The idea is to have fun

The doodles are fleeting because they are up usually for a day. Many doodles are country- or location-specific. On the archive, you can see them all.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Nov 15, 2014, 11.11 AM IST
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The doodles are fleeting because they are up usually for a day. Many doodles are country- or location-specific. On the archive, you can see them all.
The doodles are fleeting because they are up usually for a day. Many doodles are country- or location-specific. On the archive, you can see them all.
It was 1998. Larry Page and Sergey Brin were keen to attend the Burning Man Festival in the Nevada desert, an annual gathering of tens of thousands of participants dedicated to community, art, selfexpression and self-reliance.

The problem was how to let everyone know they’d be out of the small room they called the ‘office’? At that time, Google hadn’t even been incorporated as a company. They needed something that would serve as a sort of out-of-office message. That’s when the first doodle was born – a simple stick man behind the logo on the homepage. Today, Google’s Doodles are as much a part of popular culture as reality TV or internet memes.

If you’re one of those (few) people who have never seen a Google Doodle, fret not. Every doodle, including playable and animated ones, is available to view and interact with on the doodle archive. The doodles are fleeting because they are up usually for a day. Also, many doodles are country- or location-specific. On the archive, you can see them all.

Kristopher Hom is an engineer at Google and part of the core team that makes doodles and decides which of the 300 or 400-odd doodles they will make through the year. Their inspiration comes from the exhaustive list they maintain and the hundreds and thousands of ideas and submissions they receive from around the world. They also hold an annual competition called Doodle4Google. We had a chance to catch up with Hom at the announcement of the Doodle4Google winners in India.

Why would you need an engineer in the Doodle team? “In the core team, we have about 10 illustrators and four engineers. The engineers write Javascript and solve the complex problems needed to make these work. It’s kind of like being a game developer,” said Hom.

Many doodles are animated or playable, such as the playable guitar (Les Paul’s 96th birthday), the Pac-Man game (on its 30th anniversary) and the working Moog Synthesizer (Robert Moog’s 78th birthday).

The doodle for May 19 this year was an interactive and solvable Rubik’s Cube. Why was it featured on May 19 (5/19)? That’s because the cube has 519 quintillion configurations.

We asked Hom why Google holds doodle competitions – seeing that they already have a dedicated team. "It’s nice to be able to share what we do with kids. There’s a lot of creativity we’d like to tap into and they’re also very passionate about what they believe in. It’s also an interesting problem to solve because there’s a constraint that the doodle has to incorporate the Google logo as well. Out of that, you actually get a lot of creative inspiration,” he said.

What happens if a doodle offends someone? “That doesn’t happen very often. We have a filtering process – we don’t want to ever single anyone out. That being said, the most common complaint is not about doodles that we did create but about the ones that we didn’t. We try to maintain a balance between the sparseness of doodles and the delight and surprise of seeing one.”

Why does no one else do something like this? “From a branding perspective, playing with your logo is not something you would typically do. You always want it to be printed the same way, to have it be instantly recognisable. But our unique take on that is – hey, let’s have some fun with this.”

Google Doodle: The idea is to have fun

National Winner: Vaidehi Reddy, Army Public School, Pune


Google Doodle: The idea is to have fun

Group 1 Winner: Sarvagjna Miriyala, DAV Public School, Panvel, Mumbai


Google Doodle: The idea is to have fun

Group 2 Winnner: V Sai Latha Rani, Sri Prakash Vidya Niketan, Vizag

Google Doodle: The idea is to have fun


Group 3 Winner: Y Sai Greeshma, Sri Prakash Vidya Niketan, Vizag


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