An Evening with the Google Doodlers
A couple weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the first of The Computer History Museum's Revolutionaries Speaker series. It was entitled The Art and Technology Behind Google Doodles. For those who don't know, Google Doodles are those artistic and sometimes interactive redesigns of the Google logo when you first enter their main search engine page. These are made in commemoration of important birthdays, special events or just fond memories. For more information on this incredible story you can visit this page. http://www.zero1biennial.org/content/art-and-technology-behind-google-doodles
The event was very well attended, with an audience of hundreds literally filling the auditorium seating at the Museum. I got there early to attend the memeber's reception Hosted by the museum where a fantastic spread of catered food was laid out for museum members and special guests. This was my first time coming to the Computer History Museum and I was met with some incredible floor displays, which were regular fixtures in the room the reception was held. Among them was the Google Maps Car and Bicycle, which attendees were able to sit in and feel awesome. Seeing these icons of the famous Google Maps feature made me feel as though I was part of actively shaping the future. Such is the case with all the museum pieces, which are old but just current enough to be relevant given the whole computer history theme. I felt as though this would be somewhere I would love to return to at a later date.
The program commenced with moderator John Hollar, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Computer History Museum. He gave a very nice shout out to ZERO1 and our partnership for which I was very grateful. The four panelists were a selection of members of the Google Doodle Team, including Ryan Germick (Doodle Team Lead), Marcin Wichary( Doodle User Experience Lead), Kris Hom (Doodle Engineering Lead) and Jennifer Hom (Google Doodler) . The panalists gave an insightful, inspiring and hilarious talk of what Google Doodles are about and what goes into making them.
Jennifer Hom recounted the story of a particularly tiring doodle for Earth Day of this year where she literally planted the Google logo in a variety of flowers which was photographed growing and blooming in a matter of weeks(1). There was another Doodle that celebrated the Birthday of silent movie sensation Charlie Chaplin which saw the team creating a silent short in homage to Chaplin's trademark style(2).
Their message was one of collaboration and community. A shining example of a perfect marriage between cutting edge web engineering, and the brightest creative ideas to make something fun. “We try and keep light and fun...there are plenty of things we can all agree are wonderful, or at least nerds agree are wonderful, that we can celebrate.(Gerrick)” Beyond the element of momentary delight, the team also seeks to foster engagement and creation from the user interactions with these doodles. One example of this creation was the synthesizer doodle created for Robert Moog's 78th Birthday, which allowed users to turn their computer keyboard into a musical instrument and record off-the wall musical compositions (3).
Their stories of the technical challenges behind certain projects was also very eye opening. Engineers and User Expereince specialists struggle to make these fun objects seemless and delightful with some of the cutting edge technologies available to them. Wichary, recounted a challenge which was quite successful in their clever recreation of the PAC-MAN game(4), and Kris Hom spoke of a favorite accomplishment in the interactive and pleasing particle doodle.(5)
By the end of the evening, I along with several of my audience members was eager to 1. Go home and play with some doodles and 2. Quit my job and become a Google Doodler! I was listening eagerly at their answer to an audience question about how one becomes part of their team posed by a sixth grader. From my perspective it was inspiring to hear this interdisciplinary team of specialists with such great team work have a grand vision and so far, a very successful project. The best part is, not only is this project ongoing, but it's also available to the whole world of internet browsers to engage and enjoy. I was very lucky to go and can't wait to see what else the Computer History Museum has lined up for the summer!
All past doodles are archived at www.google.com/doodles. Below are links to all the ones I mentioned in this post. Enjoy!
Earth Day 2012: http://www.google.com/doodles/earth-day-2012
Charlie Chaplin: http://www.google.com/doodles/122nd-birthday-of-charlie-chaplin