What is the significance of a Google Doodle?
I must admit that I have always been a fan of trivia – and if I don't know something I need to find out, just to satisfy my own idle curiosity. And the easiest tool to assist has become Google (admittedly it’s also become the laziest method too, but in this digital world of 'everything now’ who can blame me).
Google has been a staple tool of both my personal and business life for, well, as long as I can remember (and that's quite a long time). It was recommended to me by an intuitive IT operative way back when, when it had real competition with Yahoo amongst others. And the stand out for me was always the ease of use and cleanliness of presentation of the homepage – as a slightly OCD individual it was always so easy to use. (By the way – do you know why the homepage is so plain? - the founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, didn’t know HTML and just wanted a quick interface. Amazing that the very chaps who would go on to forge one of the biggest success stories ever seen did not know something so integral to their own product).
And yet, for me, the stand out on the home page has always been the funny or interesting Google Doodle. What is that I hear you ask? It's a special, temporary alteration of the logo on Google's homepages that commemorates holidays, events, achievements, and people. The first Google Doodle honoured the Burning Man festival in 1998, and was designed by Page and Brin, who had themselves attended the festival, to notify users of their absence in case the servers crashed.
Initially, Doodles were neither animated nor hyperlinked—they were simply images with hovertext describing the subject or expressing a holiday greeting. Doodles increased in both frequency and complexity by the beginning of the 2010s. In January 2010 the first animated Doodle honoured Sir Isaac Newton. The first interactive Doodle appeared shortly after celebrating Pac-Man, and hyperlinks also began to be added to Doodles, usually linking to a search results page for the subject of the Doodle (thereby increasing the traffic to Google which is its very essence of success). By 2014, Google had published over 2,000 regional and international Doodles throughout its homepages, often featuring guest artists, musicians, and personalities
Since Google first celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday with a Doodle in 1998, many Doodles for holidays, events, and other celebrations have recurred on an annual basis, including New Year, Christmas, Valentines Day and the Olympic Games, amongst many, many others.
Google also holds competitions for school students to create their own Google doodles, referred to as "Doodle 4 Google". Winning doodles go onto the Doodle 4 Google website, where the public can vote for the winner, who wins a trip to the Googleplex and the hosting of the winning doodle for 24 hours on the Google website. The competition originated in the United Kingdom, and has since expanded to the United States and other countries.
However Google Doodles have not always been without controversy and criticism. For example, in 2007, Google posted a doodle honouring author Roald Dahl on the anniversary of his birth, a date which also happened to coincide with the first day of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. However, Google did not realize that Dahl was anti-Israel. Google had removed the Doodle by 2pm that day, and there remains no evidence of its existence in Google's official Doodle archive to this date.
In summary, much like Google itself, the Doodle is rapidly becoming an imbedded part of our everyday lives. Without the benefits of real competition Google will surely only thrive and prosper and with it, as a small sop to humour, the Doodle will surely flourish alongside it.