The first Google Doodle, on August 30, 1998, which celebrated Burning Man
The first Google Doodle, on August 30, 1998, which celebrated Burning Man

A Google Doodle is a special, temporary alteration of the logo on Google's homepages intended to commemorate holidays, events, achievements, and notable historical figures. The first Google Doodle honored the 1998 edition of the long-running annual Burning Man event in Black Rock City, Nevada, and was designed by co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin to notify users of their absence in case the servers crashed.[1][2][3] Early Marketing employee Susan Wojcicki then spearheaded subsequent Doodles, including an alien landing on Google and additional custom logos for major holidays.[4] Google Doodles were designed by an outside contractor until 2000, when Page and Brin asked public relations officer Dennis Hwang to design a logo for Bastille Day. Since then, a team of employees called "Doodlers" have organized and published the Doodles.[5]

Initially, Doodles were neither animated nor hyperlinked—they were simply images with tooltips 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 honored Sir Isaac Newton.[6] The first interactive Doodle appeared shortly thereafter celebrating Pac-Man,[7] and hyperlinks also began to be added to Doodles, usually linking to a search results page for the subject of the Doodle. By 2014, Google had published over 2,000 regional and international Doodles throughout its homepages,[8] often featuring guest artists, musicians, and personalities.[9] By 2019, the "Doodlers" team had created over 4,000 doodles for Google's homepages around the world.[10]

Overview

In addition to celebrating many well-known events and holidays, Google Doodles celebrate artists and scientists on their birthdays.[11] The featuring of Lowell's logo design coincided with the launch of another Google product, Google Maps. Google Doodles are also used to depict major events at Google, such as the company's own anniversary.[12] The celebration of historic events is another common topic of Google Doodles including a Lego brick design in celebration of the interlocking Lego block's 50th anniversary. Some Google Doodles are limited to Google's country-specific home pages while others appear globally.[13]

Common themes

For New Year's 2014, Google created this animated image depicting dancing numbers.
For New Year's 2014, Google created this animated image depicting dancing numbers.

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 the following:

Doodlers

The illustrators, engineers, and artists who design Google Doodles are called "Doodlers". These doodlers have included artists like Ekua Holmes, Jennifer Hom, Sophia Foster-Dimino, Ranganath Krishnamani, Dennis Hwang, Olivia Fields, and Eric Carle.[17][18][19][20][21][22]

Interactive and notable doodles

Google's interactive Pac-Man logo
Google's interactive Pac-Man logo

In May 2010, on the 30th anniversary of the 1980 arcade game Pac-Man, Google unveiled worldwide their first interactive logo, created in association with Namco.[23] Anyone who visited Google could play Pac-Man on the logo, which featured the letters of the word "Google" on the Pac-Man maze. The logo also mimicked the sounds the original arcade game made. The "I'm Feeling Lucky" button was replaced with an "Insert Coin" button. Pressing this once enabled the user to play the Pac-Man logo. Pressing it once more added a second player, Ms. Pac-Man, enabling two players to play at once, controlled using the W, A, S, D keys, instead of the arrows as used by Player 1. Pressing it for a third time performed an "I'm Feeling Lucky" search. It was then removed on May 23, 2010, initially replacing Pac-Man with the normal logo. Later on that day, Google released[24] a permanent site to play Google Pac-Man (accessed by clicking on top icon), due to the popular user demand for the playable logo.[24] Pac-Man Doodle drew an estimated 1 billion players worldwide.[25]

Since that time, Google has continued to post occasional interactive and video doodles:

2010s

2020s

"Doodle 4 Google" competitions

The original Google "Doodler", Dennis Hwang at a Doodle 4 Google event in Beijing, 2009
The original Google "Doodler", Dennis Hwang at a Doodle 4 Google event in Beijing, 2009

Main article: Doodle4Google

Google holds competitions for school students to create their own Google doodles, referred to as "Doodle 4 Google".[93] Winning doodles go onto the Doodle4Google 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. The competition was also held in Ireland in 2008.[94] Google announced a Doodle 4 Google competition for India in 2009[95] and the winning doodle was displayed on the Google India homepage on November 14. A similar competition held in Singapore based on the theme "Our Singapore" was launched in January 2010 and the winning entry was chosen from over 30,000 entries received. The winning design was shown on Singapore's National Day on Google Singapore's homepage.[96] It was held again in 2015 in Singapore and was themed 'Singapore: The next 50 years'.

Controversy and criticism

See also: Criticism of Google

On September 13, 2007, Google posted a doodle honoring author Roald Dahl on the anniversary of his birth. This date also happened to coincide with the first day of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, and Google was immediately criticized by some groups for this decision due to the fact that Dahl has been accused of anti-Semitism. Google removed the Doodle by 2:00 p.m. that day, and there remains no evidence of its existence in Google's official Doodle archive to this date.[97][98]

In 2007, Google was also criticized for not featuring versions of the Google logo for American patriotic holidays such as Memorial Day and Veterans Day.[99] Google featured a logo commemorating Veterans Day that year.[100]

In 2014, Google received some criticism for failing to honor the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion with a Doodle and instead honoring Japanese Go player Honinbo Shusaku.[101] In response to the criticism, Google removed the logo from their homepage and added a series of links to images of the invasion of Normandy.[101]

On May 19, 2016, Google honored Yuri Kochiyama, an Asian American activist and member of the Maoist-based black nationalist group Revolutionary Action Movement, with a Doodle on its main U.S. homepage.[102][103] This choice was criticized due to some of Kochiyama's controversial opinions, such as an admiration for Osama bin Laden and Mao Zedong.[102][104] U.S. Senator Pat Toomey called for a public apology from Google.[105] Google did not respond to any criticism, nor did it alter the presentation of the Doodle on its homepage or on the Doodle's dedicated page.[106]

Gender

In 2014, a report published by SPARK Movement, an activist organization, stated that there was a large gender and race imbalance in the number of Doodles shown by Google, and that most Doodles were honoring white males.[107] The report was widely reported in the media, and Google made a commitment to increase the proportion of women and racial minorities.[108][109]

Religious holidays

Google typically abstains from referencing or celebrating religious holidays specifically in Doodles, or in cases when they do, religious themes and iconography are avoided. Google has acknowledged this as an official policy, stating in April 2018 that they "don't have Doodles for religious holidays", according to "current Doodle guidelines." Google further explained that Doodles may appear for some "non-religious celebrations that have grown out of religious holidays", citing Valentine's Day (Christianity), Holi (Hinduism), and Tu B'Av (Judaism) as examples, but that the company does not include "religious imagery or symbolism" as part of those Doodles.[110]

Google has been criticized for what has been perceived as its inconsistency regarding the implementation of its religious holiday policy, notably its lack of Doodles for major Christian holidays. Critics have pointed to its yearly recognition of the Jewish and Hindu festivals of Tu B'av and Holi, while Easter only received an official Doodle once in 2000 (and a themed homepage in 2019).[111][112] Christmas is not specifically celebrated by name,[a] although a Doodle with a seasonally festive and/or winter theme has always been present on December 25 since 1999. Since the mid-2010s, Google has also repeated their December 25 doodle on January 7, which is the date for Christmas in the Eastern Orthodox Church, but the word "Christmas" has never explicitly been used; the terminology "holidays" and "Eastern Europe" are used instead of "Christmas" or "Eastern Orthodox Church".[113][114]

Easter

Google first created a Doodle for Easter in 2000, and did not acknowledge the holiday on its homepage again until 2019. In March 2013, Google was criticized for celebrating American activist Cesar Chavez on Easter Sunday with a Doodle instead of Easter.[115]

In 2019, after an 18-year hiatus, Google presented an atypical "Doodle" for Easter, for the desktop version of their homepage only. Unlike what is seen in virtually all other Doodles, the Google logo itself was unaltered in the presentation of the Doodle, and users had to click on the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button where "Lucky" is replaced with an anthropomorphic Easter egg,[112] which triggered a falling array of Easter-themed items such as eggs, bunnies, and hot cross buns. Some of these items were hyperlinked, leading to a detailed page about Easter customs. Google's official Doodle archive page originally contained an unlisted entry for the 2019 Easter Doodle, which has since been removed.[b][116] Notably, the 2019 Easter-themed homepage was not visible from mobile devices unless the "Desktop mode" option was triggered on the mobile browser, leading to the majority of users not ever seeing the "Doodle". Danny Sullivan, technologist with Google involved with the Easter-themed homepage, responded to an inquiry about its absence on mobile by saying it was "hard to do the interactivity dependably [on mobile]".[117]

In 2020, Google once again celebrated Easter atypically on its homepage, but not as a Doodle. An Easter egg was placed below the "Google Search" and "I'm Feeling Lucky" buttons, with hovertext indicating "Happy Easter".[118] When clicked, the egg led to a search results page for "Easter". This is similar to how Memorial Day and Remembrance Day have been recognized by the company in the US.[119]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b Every year since 1999, Google has posted a special international doodle as either one logo or several interconnected logos, spanning at least the day of December 25 (sometimes beginning as early as December 1 and ending as late as December 27). Many of the logos have had winter themes, despite it being summer in the Southern Hemisphere, but few have had explicitly Christmas themes, opting for generic seasonally festive imagery instead. Google has rarely if ever used the word "Christmas" in relation to these Doodles, though multiple news sources have.[15][16] Google has used terminology including "season's greetings", "happy holidays", "'tis the season", "end of year" and "holiday series" to describe the Doodles.
  2. ^ Although Wayback Machine's archival of the 2019 Easter Doodle's dedicated page did not record the actual Doodle logo or text, it is evident that a dedicated page was erected at the URL "google.com/doodles/easter-2019" and later removed by Google just prior to the Wayback Machine's attempt to archive it, as archival of this URL was automatically triggered by the Wayback Machine on Easter Day 2019 (April 21), which is not the case for any other type of invalid URL in the google.com/doodles/ path index. The citation provided shows that the page was triggered for archival on April 21, 2019.

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