History of the Google Doodle

The Google Doodle was born in 1998 before Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) was even incorporated. A stick figure was placed behind the second “o” in Google as a tongue-in-cheek way of saying that both Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founders, were off to the Nevada desert for Burning Man. Two years later in 2000, Larry and Sergey asked current webmaster Dennis Hwang, who was just an intern at the time, to work on a Bastille Day Doodle. It was fantastically well received and Hwang has been more responsible for Google Doodles than any one person since. The company has now featured over 1,000 Doodles worldwide including work by children.

Google Doodle

Today saw Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) announce its fourth annual contest for children called Doodle 4 Google. The winner will see his or her Doodle featured on the home page sometime this June. While that’s quite prestigious in its own right, the winner will also receive a $30,000 scholarship and the winner’s school will receive $50,000 for a technology lab.

A post on the company’s website today outlined this year’s theme. “Doodle 4 Google is the chance for young artists to think and dream big. Our theme this year, ‘If I could invent one thing to make the world a better place…’ is all about curiosity, possibility and imagination.” The post also pointed out the company’s thinking behind the theme, “Before there was an airplane, there were doodles of flying machines, and before there was a submarine, there were doodles of underwater sea explorers. Ideas big and small, practical and playful, thought-provoking and smile-inducing, have started out as doodles. And we’re ready for more!”

While I’m not sure I would call Da Vinci’s drawing of a helicopter a doodle, I get the point.

Selecting the winner

The LA Times is reporting that Google employees will vote to select the 250 best Doodles from which celebrity judges will then be tasked with narrowing the field down to 50, one from each state. Each kid whose Doodle makes it this far will be flown out to Google’s headquarters to participate in a variety of workshops and tour the campus.

The Google Doodle is iconic and rarely controversial. This recently changed when Google depicted Harriet Tubman in a “do-rag,” for Black History Month, prompting a charge of racism from Nick Canon. Echoing my sentiment, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) did not take it down, presumably saying, “Who cares what Nick Canon thinks, who the hell is Nick Canon, and why is he famous?”