What is a Google Doodle?
By definition, a Google Doodle refers to an artistic expression of Google’s logo on its search engine homepage. Notably, Google often creates a Google Doodle to commemorate a noteworthy figure’s birthday, a holiday, an anniversary, or another significant event.
Important to realize, Google Search News & Results Homepage started honoring people, events, anniversaries and holidays with a doodle designed by one of its engineers in 1999.
From its inception, the company has since then honored an array of African personalities. Such as,
- Nobel Peace Prize winner and world-renowned environmentalist Wangari Maathai,
- South African singer and activist Miriam Makeba, Stephen Keshi, former captain and coach of the Super Eagles, Nigeria’s national soccer team.
The doodles started as a small thing, but have grown into an integral part of how we think of Google. They make them a company we see as fun.
We think of them as interesting, intelligent people doing interesting, intelligent things. We trust them.
What is the Purpose of Google Doodle?
Chiefly, a Google Doodle is a product of Google that appears temporarily on special occasions in place of Google’s permanent logo on the homepage.
In the initial phase, Doodles were neither hyperlinked nor animated.
In that case, they are plain interactive images with hover-text describing the subject or expressing a holiday greeting.
For example, as can be seen, especially through Dr. Herbert Kleber today on Google’s Homepage. As well as Dr. Margaret Ogola’s Commemoration on Google Kenya Homepage (June 13, 2019).
How do you make your own Google Doodle?
- Download or print the entry form.
- Doodle: Artists create their doodles using any materials they want.
- Write Doodle description – Write an artist statement to tell us a bit more about what you have drawn and how it represents something that inspires you. …
- Submit: Enter the contest.
From the above details, you already know that those little pictures or animations that sometimes take over the Google homepage are called doodles.
The weird thing is, considering I see them more often than I see some family members, I’ve never really given them much thought.
I’ve clicked some, played around on some of the interactive ones. But I’ve never stopped to think about how much they must cost to make.
So I did some research (of course, via Google). Turns out those fun little distractions don’t come cheap.
A Brief History of Google Doodling
For your information, the first doodle was designed in 1998, when co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin used it as an out-of-office while they were at Burning Man.
They wanted to let users know they were away in case the servers crashed (turns out there was a time when Google would be affected by two guys going to a party).
The next doodle wasn’t until 2000, to celebrate Bastille Day. Users liked it, the intern who designed it got promoted and more doodles followed.
Now the team aims to produce around 400 doodles a year, 50-100 of these are animated, and 12 are fully interactive.
In fact, doodles are so important to Google that they even got a patent for them.
That’s a lot of effort. Which begs the question – what are these things doing for Google?
1. Doodles Don’t Improve Traffic
Google processes 3.5bn searches every day. Those people will be using Google regardless of the doodle of the day.
Has anyone ever thought that they might use a rival search engine, only to be brought back by the celebration of the 131st anniversary of the hole puncher?
2. Doodles Don’t Drive Sales
Google’s revenue comes from ad clicks, but the main source for the Google doodle is the homepage (which is ad-free).
It does also appear at the top of each search too, but if anything here it’s a distraction. It’s taking people away from the search they made (with all those juicy relevant ads).
And also, putting them into a search they had no intention of making (and therefore less relevance for ads).
3. Doodles Don’t Guarantee Universal Admiration
The doodles have not been without controversy.
The analysis showed a skew towards white men being featured, there have been doodles to controversial figures, or uploaded at controversial times.
There have even been criticisms for doodles not done and opportunities missed.
4. And It’s Not Like They’re Helping The Economy
One doodle to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Pac-Man was said to have caused $120m in lost productivity.
Another of a playable guitar for Les Paul potentially cost $268.4m.
I’m taking these numbers with a pinch of salt. After all, the users were people looking for a distraction, they probably would have spent that time on Facebook, or cat videos (hey, it was 2011). Anything but working.
But if we just consider just the raw time users spend on them, 10.7 million hours for the Les Paul doodle, that still adds up to a hefty amount of distraction.
Not to mention, work for the Google servers, and none of which is fundamentally helping the company.
Who makes the Google Doodle?
The Google Doodle actually began its life as a humorous out-of-office message for the company’s co-founders, Sergey Brin, and Larry Page.
To let everyone know they had gone to the Burning Man festival, they placed the festival’s icon behind the second ‘o’ on their own company’s logo.
It is fitting that what has become a forum for sophisticated artistic and technical expression began life as a stick figure.
We can trace the Doodle’s development over time from a simple stick man to an interactive multimedia hub that educates and entertains on a variety of subjects.
Most Recent Google Doodle Examples
Google doodles don’t give a direct boost to the bottom line, and they come with seemingly unnecessary risk.
But, the reason they exist, the reason that any content exists, is simple.
We make content because we’re doing more than just selling stuff.
In reality, the Google Doodle team (yes, there’s a whole team that do this for a living) is about ten people.
They spend thousands of hours thinking up, designing and coding them. That’s a fair amount in wages alone.
Below are the most recent examples of Google Doodles from jmexclusives.
1. Dr. Herbert Kleber Google Doodle Honours
Surprisingly, Google Search Engine News as of 1st October 2019 had a special doodle in celebration of the life of Dr. Herbert Kleber.
Notably, he is the pioneer of modern addiction treatment in the US. And also, an award-winning psychiatrist, medical doctor, and human rights advocate.
Whereby, through Google Doodle, he received honors on treatment through its Tuesday Doodle feature.
Unfortunately, he died back in October 2018, and that’s why, today (October 1, 2019) marks the 23rd anniversary of his election to the National Academy of Medicine.
Therefore, with this in mind, October 1st would have been the 23rd anniversary of Kleber’s election to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM).
2. Dr. Margaret Ogola Google Doodle Honours
On the other hand, Google Doodle bearing the image of Dr. Margaret Ogola appeared on Google’s homepage in Kenya. As a matter of fact, it coincided with what would have been the late author’s 60th birthday.
“Local doodles provide a way for Google to connect with Kenyans about what matters to them and to help celebrate the important moments,” said Dorothy Ooko, head of communications and public affairs, SSA.
“We celebrated Wangari Maathai and today we’re celebrating a literary figure, Dr. Margaret Ogola.”
Doodles Change How We Think Of Google
A big part of the content is showing who you are. And the doodles show a softer side of Google. A human side.
This is perhaps more important for Google than it is for any other company in the world.
Not only is Google a huge business with more money than some countries, but it also got to be that big because it serves as the gateway to the world’s knowledge.
After all, there’s a fundamental paradox Google has to deal with. For instance, people need to trust them as an unbiased source of information.
But, their entire business model is to make money from ads. This threatens to undermine that trust.
There have been issues before (such as the ongoing antitrust case in the EU). If they get the balance wrong and lose that trust, they risk being seen as biased.
In particular, feeding us only the information they want us to see. That’s some full-on Fahrenheit-451-meets-Skynet shit.
In the words of one of their own designers, the appeal of doodles is how “it shows the human behind the machine”.
This is even more important as there are fewer and fewer people and more and more machines.
Google’s deep learning is now responsible for ranking your searches (and no one knows for certain what it could be doing in the future).
As the tech progresses, it’s more important than ever for Google to reassure users there is a person behind the machine.
The doodles are a chance for Google to leave users with a piece of information they didn’t know.
And by doing so, demonstrates that Google themselves are less important than the information they’re curating.
I hope you have gathered enough information in regards to the Beginner’s knowledge on Google Doodle.
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