Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Google Doodles Do More

Google Doodle from May 23, 2012.
 The Google Doodle has become an icon. Many casually enjoy them while others eagerly look forward to their appearances. They are festive, fun, and exhaustingly entertaining.

In the last twelve years, Google has created over 1000 "Doodle" designs for their search engine home page. Each one is meticulously sketched, colored and finessed by a creative team known as the Google "Doodlers." Lately the company has enlisted engineers and designers to animate these images and in some cases, like the May 23, 2012 Moog Synthesizer Doodle the creations are becoming increasingly more interactive.

In addition to being festive and fun, the Google Doodles are chosen specifically due to content and timing. The cultural occurrences represented by Google vary from memorializing historical figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. to informing users about events like the 50th anniversary of the first man in space and Earth Day. Most commemorate social or historical phenomenon and are linked to information about the subject for further investigation should the viewer desire to learn more.

Various Google Doodles.
 Fun and educational, Google is also entering a journalistic grey area with these inforgraphic images and new game like application. By choosing their Doodle of the day, Google is essentially replacing their traditional logo with one that represents an "important" (by their standards at least) topic of the day. These topics often coincide with headlines that one might run across in the human interest section of a periodicals and professional blogs, for example the History Channel's "This Day in History."

This lends to analyzing Google's current role in making news, reporting news, or controlling news . Although influenced by news and current events, often the chosen Google Doodle will actually spark journalistic coverage of the topic as is the case with the Moog Synthesizer Doodle, and others like it, where an article will be written about the Doodle itself. In these cases, it appears that Google is actually creating news by generating interest in a story through visual and programing platforms.

Essentially they are accomplishing all three simultaneously.

Google creates a Doodle to visually represent a story of interest which may or may not be presently covered by news media. The Doodles in turn are written about which causes that story they wanted told to be written about as well. Breaking this down further, here's what Google has just accomplished:
  • they became a journalistic force by choosing to tell a story through their infographic Doodle without having to actually be a journalistic entity
  • they instigated news coverage by generating their own story and being written about, thus manipulating media consumption
  • and they spread their brand through the very media coverage they generated

That is a huge amount of power and influence for a little doodle. There is clearly more to these Google Doodles than meets the eye, although they sure are fun to look at.

1 comment:

  1. You make a good connection between the rhetoric of celebrating occasions with the Google Doodle and more substantive issues involving digital journalism and the increasing "Googlization" of our society (to use the term of Siva Vaidhyanathan). My partner actually designed the Jim Henson Google Doodle that generated quite a bit of media buzz.