Google gets patent for its doodles (really)

The patent, which describes Sergey Brin as the inventor of the Doodle "system," says Doodles exist to "entice" you to a Web page. But are doodles really a system?

I worry that our whole world is being systematically systematized.

The more our youngest and brightest minds offer their working souls to the Facebooks and Twitters of this firmament, the more they are asked to define every single human event and emotion by digits.

And yet I still found myself sensing a momentary twitch of the single gray hair between my eyebrows when I heard that Google had been awarded a patent for its doodles.

I suppose there will be some who will say: "But, of course! Google's doodles are unique works of art! Van Gogh would have secured a patent if he'd actually managed to sell one of his paintings!"

But these people might not have read the patent. You see, this isn't a document that craves some proprietary claws over artistic genius.

Instead, it claims Sergey Brin as its inventor and is titled "Systems and methods for enticing users to access a Web site."

Of course. Art has to have a system, doesn't it? It can't be about inspiration.

Can this lovely Jules Verne doodle really be the product of a system? Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

This is Google. Everything must be systematized. The abstract makes this entirely clear: "A system provides a periodically changing story line and/or a special event company logo to entice users to access a Web page."

You see, the word "system" is there straight away.

But there's more: "For the story line, the system may receive objects that tell a story according to the story line and successively provide the objects on the Web page for predetermined or random amounts of time. For the special event company logo, the system may modify a standard company logo for a special event to create a special event logo, associate one or more search terms with the special event logo, and upload the special event logo to the Web page."

A first glance at all this suggests that Google's systematic originality lies in, um, drawing something, and then, well, uploading it.

But there's perhaps an even more painful hidden message inside: that all those nice people who sit at their computers and try to create amusing versions of the Google logo to celebrate some meaningful day are merely the movable (and removable) parts of a system.

It seems that they always have been. Indeed, Google filed this patent application almost 10 years ago.

I know that there will be many wise and legal minds who will tell me that this was a necessary measure, as everything even vaguely interesting must be patented in order to protect its intellectual property.

But how sad that Google didn't try to patent something like "inspiration," "artistry," or, you know, "magic."

 

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