Google has made an institution out of swapping out its company logo for a special nod to great minds of the past. Today, it celebrated the 205th birthday of Hans Christian Andersen, the Danish author of "The Little Mermaid," "The Emperor's New Clothes," and "The Ugly Duckling."
But rather than stick to a single novelty image, Google chose five. Click on Friday's Hans Christian Andersen logo to see a multi-panel retelling of his classic "Thumbelina." It walks through the tiny girl's adventure, from her climbing over knitting tools to finally meeting an equally itty-bitty prince.
The pair lives happily ever after, but what is Google's next move? This flipbook style is new to Google doodles. It's a clever yet understated way of honoring a story that's more about the wild journey than any individual scene.
As these flourishes become almost weekly – remember, there was another banner swap just yesterday – Google has tried out several new tricks with recent doodles.
Not long ago, the home page showed a digital apple succumb to gravity. This wink to Isaac Newton was the first example of an animated Google logo and the only photorealistic one.
Before that, Google carved out an entire week for the "Sesame Street" 40th anniversary, publishing special banners for several of the show's main characters. The Google doodles even differed from country to country, giving the whole week some international flair.
Last year, Google set up a mysterious, extraterrestrial series of logos for HG Wells:
First came the Sept. 5 image of a UFO abducting the second O in Google's name. The odd picture came with the cryptic Twitter tweet: 1.12.12 220.127.116.11 15 1.18.5 18.104.22.168.14.7 20.15 21.19. Each number stood for a corresponding letter (1 is A, 2 is B, etc.) All together the coded message comes out as "All your O are belong to us," which Google acknowledged this morning was a reference to the infamously poor translation, "All your base are belong to us," from the Japanese video game Zero Wing.
[Then came a] second UFO sighting on Google's homepage. This time inspired by crop circles, the Google doodle showed a flying saucer sculpting the company's name into an illustrated corn field. As we wrote last Monday, "to add to the mystery, Google posted the coordinates “51.327629, -0.5616088” in a cryptic Twitter tweet. Curious searchers identified the spot as Horsell, England. Sci-Fi aficionados may recognize the name. In 'War of the Worlds,' HG Wells wrote that Horsell residents witnessed the first UFO landing."
[The final] close encounter came as a three-legged spaceship romping through a rural village that vaguely resembles the Google emblem. The company's name is far more obscured than in the other two, but its meaning is finally clear.
Also, let's not forget the barcode banner that had plenty of Googlers scratching their heads.
Commenter Frank also wanted more moving Google doodles: "Why daunt users with the same boring logo when they can be animated with a little extra character again and again!"
And Monitor reader Marie is wished for an animated "Edgar Allen Poe, especially if you can get the bird to fly!"
What new styles do you think Google should use next? Share your thoughts in the comments.