Alexander Calder was a man of artistic spirit and unrestrained creativity, and those characteristics led to his most-know invention: the mobile. Now a common contraption placed above the cribs of youngsters around the world, the mobile started as an art project that took mediums thought of us thoroughly unartistic (wire and shrapnel) and made them into a masterpiece of abstraction and movement.
But what, exactly, does all that have to do with search engines? Well, if you’re lucky enough to be viewing this on July 22nd, you can find that out for yourself by visiting Google.com. Their home page displays a mobile-styled Google doodle. True to the foundational concept of the mobile – that is, mobility – this doodle is movable. Users can click and drag the mobile around, then watch the mobile “drift” as it naturally would. (If you missed the display itself, you should be able to see it soon on the Google Logos page.)
Marissa Mayer revealed an additional feature of the mobile in a Google+ update: “If you pick up your laptop and rock it from side to side, the mobile swings and moves (cool use of the accelerometer in most laptops).”
This feat of engineering was inspired by Alexander Calder and released in commemoration of his birthday (it would have been his 113th). Jered Wierzbicki, a Google software engineer, saw a Calder exhibit and related to the idea of working with abstractions. After he demonstrated a computer-based mobile to other Googlers, fellow engineers and the Google doodle staff hopped on board. “I’m proud to work for a company where an idea like this can actually happen,” said Wierzbicki.
It’s not just his fellow Googlers that enabled the mobile doodle, though. As the first Google doodle using only the HTML 5 canvas, the mobile doodle takes advantage of the latest browser technologies – and, of course, the correlating modern browsers. That means, among other things, you’ll need IE8 or 9, Firefox 3+, or Chrome 9+ to view the effects.
[Sources include: Marissa Mayer & The Official Google Blog]