Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Thursday 17/11/2005Google. Is there any better contender for the most advanced computer company on the planet?

Thursday 17/11/2005

Google. Is there any better contender for the most advanced computer company on the planet? It effortlessly swallows Internets, maps the world, dances lightly around Microsoft like a pink elephant around a binge drinker, and hints darkly about feeding some enormous AI hiding in its basement like a Giant Evil Brain from 50s Hollywood. Actually, they have fed the entire proceedings of the UN to a language robot, in an attempt to create an expert system that translates like a human instead of a fictional fish, so they’re certainly doing something of the sort for certain values of AI.

But all is not as it seems. Yesterday, the company imported flocks of schoolchildren to its UK GooglePlex (that’s ‘offices’ to you and me) – no, not to start the creation of a implant-driven slave race underground which will one day rise up and overrun the 'Unlinked, as they will call us unaugmented humans. Instead, the company decided to run a competition to design a ‘Doodle for Google’ along the lines of the Vision On gallery, with the winning kid seeing their picture on the Google UK front page for a day.

And why not. We don’t get to run many stories that make you go ‘Aaaahh’ – that’s a nice Aaaah, not an AAAARGH – and since the logo was due to go live at 1700, it could just about fit into the end of play.

Our reporter on the spot radioed in that all had gone well, that the logo was unveiled and that he was nipping off sharpish. "But it’s still the old logo here" said Graeme 'Stickler' Wearden. "Oh, don’t be so obsessive," was the last heard from the reporter as he Doppler-shifted towards the pub.

Five fifteen came and went, and five thirty after it. Still no doodle. By six, we were seriously concerned. Had something happened to our cache? Was the entire story some well-documented group hallucination? Would we have to — shock, horror — check our facts.

Yep. So we phoned the PR — there are no lengths to which we will not go, when it matters. “Sorry!” she said. “Technical hitch. It’ll be up later.”

Ah, good. So that’s what we wrote. But… technical hitch? In getting the logo onto the site? An 8K JPG, which appears to be served as a static image? The single simplest task a web server can be asked to do?

Google, is there something you’re not telling us?