Today’s Google Doodle

March 31, 2017 • 3:30 pm

I’m told by reader Kevin that this is today’s Google Doodle in the US, though it’s already a day later in New Zealand (expect lots of April Fool’s jokes tomorrow in the US). It highlights diversity, and is the winner of a contest:

Google describes it this way:

Nine years in, the U.S. Doodle 4 Google Contest draws thousands of creative submissions from talented young artists across the country. Roughly 140,000 participants answered this year’s prompt, “What I see for the future.” Some imagined a future with modernized homes, others dreamed of a planet without endangered animals, while some saw a compassionate world built around communal harmony.

Five incredibly talented national finalists spent the day at Google HQ in Mountain View, California. Of those five masterpieces, Connecticut 10th grader Sarah Harrison’s Doodle, “A Peaceful Future” was chosen as the national winner! Today, millions in the U.S. can enjoy her masterpeice on the Google homepage.

Sarah says, “My future is a world where we can all learn to love each other despite our religion, gender, race, ethnicity, or sexuality. I dream of a future where everyone is safe and accepted wherever they go, whoever they are.”

Of course the diversity is only of ethnicity, religion, and whether or not you’re handicapped; what’s ignored is diversity of class and of ideas.

It’s a nice thought that we can all live in harmony, but I have mixed feelings about it, and shared Kevin’s reaction when I saw the different religions highlighted:

I think it misses the mark: religious diversity is unlikely to maintain peace, especially in the long run.  (Maybe it’s an early April Fool’s joke 🙂

And must the Muslim woman also wear the hijab of oppression when she already has a Muslim symbol on her tee shirt?

And where’s the tee shirt with a donkey for a Democrat and one with an elephant for a Republican? Now there’s a harmony greatly to be desired (and also one impossible to achieve).

I guess I’m just becoming a curmudgeon of the “get off my lawn” stripe.

p.s What does the “e =” symbol mean?

p.p.s. I just noticed that the “disabled” and “old” people are, literally, marginalized. And really, that person is supposed to be old? Shoved behind the others, he’s clearly showing ageism on the part of the artist, especially since everyone else looks to be about 18.

Other readers who sent me this had other reactions, most of them somewhat critical. Please add your take below.

109 thoughts on “Today’s Google Doodle

    1. Or
      Planck’s e=hv


      just possibly the math constant

      and if the t-shirt is really cool then it’s
      e=(1 + 1/n)^n as n–>infinity

      1. I tried that on a scientific calculator but I could never find one that didn’t just say ‘error’ 🙁


        1. I can’t remember seeing a calculator that had complex inputs. I don’t think I’ve ever needed one.

          1. I just tried the sqrt(-1) function but it objected.

            Computers can certainly be persuaded to handle complex numbers (or simulate doing so) since Mandelbrots can be programmed.


            1. I’ve probably had to write code involving complex solutions (I’ve coded Mandlebrot Set drawing algorithms in the past, for certain. On some HP blob with about 36kb of memory. ROM + RAM.) But before doing that, I had to hand-wrangle the algebra into two branches and a test so the individual branches didn’t need to care if there were an imaginary quantity present or not. Which is quite likely what other libraries do too, at some level or another, way below the level that end users normally descend to.
              I would put “implementing complex maths on discrete gate logic chips” high on my list of things I don’t want to do. Sounds like bloody hard sweat.

              1. Mandelbrots were actually particularly easy to do in the built-in assembler in BBC Basic on the Archimedes. Because the critical bit z -> z^2 + c (which might be repeated hundreds of times for each point) only took a couple of lines of code, so it made sense to write that in assembler, and all the rest of the program that wasn’t time-critical, just leave in easy-to-write Basic.

                Lovely language, Basic 5.


              2. The machine I had access to was an HP thing. One of these things even. No manuals, just a tape containing the ancillary programmes for certain services, but I managed to find something appropriate in the university library which gave us a way into the machine. And no storage media, so you had to fat-finger your program in every session.

              3. “an HP thing.”

                OK, one of those. About 2 generations earlier than the Acorn Archimedes I was thinking of.

                I encountered an Olivetti Programma 101 at my first job – 121 program steps, 8 (?) registers, output on paper tape, cost $3000. At my first attempt I managed to put it into and endless loop, and there it sat, clattering away and spewing out paper unstoppably, until I pulled the plug (literally). Never dared tell anyone and never touched it again, though I doubt if I harmed it.


              4. Yeah, we had to pull the plug on the HP-85 more than a few times, but unlike the fossils dehydrating in the dry end of the unit, my wet end colleagues and I had some exposure to stopping unending programmes by pulling the plug on the teletype (which sent an HUP to the mainframe). But back in those days, we repaired circuit boards with a sucker and a soldering iron, read 74-series chips pinouts if the newspapers hadn’t arrived that week, and could phone home if we filled out a 1-page request form and submitted it to our supervisor.

    1. Yeah, I’d say that’s Nerdboy, showing the rest of the world living in harmony with sciencey types.

      I’m guessing the person to the right of Nerdboy is supposed to represent diversity of age? Hard to tell, but they’ve got a cane and some greying around the temples.

      I can tell you this: if that last character is supposed to represent us living in harmony with poeple who wear socks with their birkenstocks, you can forget it. Die, fashion blasphemers, die! 🙂

      1. I will continue to proudly wear my Birks with socks when it’s cold out. I’m comfy and I don’t care what some fashion policeman thinks!

      2. Well I can’t live in harmony with anyone that didn’t realise Google needs an ‘e’ to make the last letter of company name.

        My guess is the artist felt she was being clever by adding the equals sign and colouring in the guy’s face. I’ve no complaints about a tenth grader being a little idealistic.

  1. I suspect the cmsquared bit of ‘e =’is on the back of the tee shirt. Also, would that cover the ‘ideas’ deficit you mentioned? Curmudgeonicity matures (evolves?) with age. You have a wee way to go experience its full flowering. Curmudgeon-ness ensures you don’t become absolutely invisible as you age. Its the kick back which says ‘hey, guys, I’m still here’!

  2. Historically, strategies for developing and maintaining peace are meteorically off course with regard to managing ideologically motivated groups. There are two reasons for this: fear and accommodation. People rarely confront religion as the critical component to justifying violence, unrest, and repressive governing tactics.

    Accommodation of other’s faiths ultimately prevents peace. Tolerance cannot be maintained in the face of sociological, educational, and economic burdens placed on less developed, theocratic societies. It becomes an impasse because criticism of religions, like Islam is criticism of other faiths, like Christianity. The liberal intent to protect people’s feelings and faiths mires the ability of our civilization to promote and maintain the highest possibility of peace for citizens of this world.

    [I think e=2.71828…and I’d like to think that Euler has more to do with peace than any of the other symbols.]

    1. Are you suggesting we shouldn’t have freedom of religion because, in your mind, it doesn’t promote peace? I just want to make sure I’m understanding you. Maybe you meant a lack of total peace is just the price we pay for freedoms such as these.

      While I didn’t support Trump’s “Muslim ban,” it seems to me that someone with your view of religious diversity would and should, but I remember you being vehemently opposed to it. If we are going to have religions (and the world will have religions for long after you and I are gone), and if your theory holds true, isn’t it best to have nations that are exclusively Christian, exclusively Muslim, exclusively etc.?

      1. Politics with religion should not be mixed. All of my closest friends have come from different countries. There should be no restrictions on people coming into any country. My fear of terrorism from immigrants is equal to the fear I have of flea brandishing a firearm, i.e., non-existent.

        Religion should never be barred from society. The best we can do and are doing is creating a secular environment for people to thrive. In a few a centuries, I doubt there will be any of the known ancient organized religions that we have now. That is the solution: time mixed with science and education.

        1. I don’t think politics and religion should mix either. I’m a staunch supporter of separation of church and state. Not sure exactly what that had to do with my questions for Historian, though (I’m not trying to be a jerk, I’m just confused on the point you were making. It’s hard to say certain things in text without them coming out as hostile).

    2. Moralistic religions allows for larger societies by keeping the peace among not closely related males. The ‘us versus them’ principle. What is the use of larger societies? Better warfare, of course. Religion is a weapon of war.

      So the question is: how do we get rid of religion (or other like ideology) without persecution? The latter being a self defeating nono, of course

    3. Promoting peace is itself a value, although one widely held. Perhaps there ought to be a Spartan or a Mongol Horde representative included – or is the span of diversity not that wide?

  3. Yes, the ‘winning’ doodle completely missed as a prediction. Religion guarantees there will NOT be a peaceful future. It hasn’t for several thousand years so far.

    Also, what is with all the horn shadows in the background? Satan’s alternatives? LOL

    1. I believe the horn shadows are sign language for “I love you” (note the position of the thumbs). Or they’re all from the University of Texas (Hook ’em Horns!).

  4. Of course the diversity is only of ethnicity, religion, and whether or not you’re handicapped; what’s ignored is diversity of class and of ideas.

    Even more basically, everybody in the doodle is young.

    1. I think the last person on the right is supposed to be old. Note the cane and very slight gray in the hair. But I could be wrong.

      If that’s what a 10th grader’s idea of what old people are like, I’m all for it. If I look like that at the end of my life and only need a walking stick, I’ll consider myself to have dodged many bullets.

      1. Well said eric.

        Now if only I had that much hair.

        If only I had much hair.

        If only I had hair.



    2. How can you tell what age the characters are? The gentleman at the end is older, and one or two of them look like teenagers, but as for the rest they could be 30’s -50’s. It’s not obvious.

      Of course, I thought the Muslim was wearing a hoodie, so don’t go by me.

  5. This came on a bad day for me.

    I am left confused by the doodle.

    Who couldn’t love the idea of everyone loving everyone and animals unconditionally? And that’s the thing – if it gets criticized, what then?

    The notion of everyone getting along, hugging each other, as shown , … what is this? Is this supposed to be people governed by laws, expressing free speech, taking and giving criticism, ditching bad ideas – where are the ethically treated animals, the people who have a vegetable-only diet, etc.? Is this to mean they had to just choose the most important “things” to represent? What are those things?

    The art work stylistically is patronizing.

    The categorization of human beings is … something. I don’t know what. and it’s the most important element of the piece.

    Oh goodness – I just realized- the word Google is spelled by the symbols. I give up.

    1. “Oh goodness – I just realized- the word Google is spelled by the symbols.”

      Arrgh, you had to point that out!


  6. “And must the Muslim woman also wear the hijab of oppression when she already has a Muslim symbol on her tee shirt?”

    I think they must have realized it would have been to offensive to depict an Islamic woman without a hijab, so much for diversity.

    1. Well they don’t want the cartoon girl to burn in a fire of stones and man for eternity for committing the mortal sin of exposing her hair.

    2. Well, she’s already in enough trouble unless that guy she’s got her arm is either her husband, brother, or father…

  7. I’m sure that to get such a prediction of the future, it would naturally come from a very young person. Let’s hold this survey for those over 60 only and then, only those with at least a college degree. It’s like asking all the contestants at the beauty contest to think big. Mostly it will be a wish for world peace. Why not pick something more impossible.

    If we go for something more within reality it might be an ocean of water with very little land sticking out due to global warming. It could be something nice and warm and fuzzy but I think not.

  8. If this artwork for Google was created by a young contestant, I applaud the artist. I think we’re being too harsh in expecting more nuance and increasingly sophisticated concepts. They have the idea. May it grow. This youngster very clearly gets the concept of hatred for the handicapped, religious, racial, and different genders. Yes, of course, some of us would prefer that there be no religions, but that ain’t gonna happen. Some people need their blankies. In the meantime, the people depicted here could learn better methods for and work toward living in peace.

    The hand signals in the background are not horns as far as I know, although I don’t know what all the hand signals mean that are used by young people today. The one on the far right is obviously a heart. Even old(er) folks associated with University of Oregon take pictures of themselves on their travels flashing a big “O” symbol with their hands for UofO.

      1. You’d be right if that were the case, however, “Connecticut 10th grader Sarah Harrison”. Six years makes a difference.

        1. Oops! Misread it. My booboo.

          But I think my comment still applies, so far as the girl who painted the illustration is concerned.

          It’s a bit like the platitudinous answers contestants in beauty contests give (world peace and all that). Just what are they _supposed_ to say? An intelligent, non-controversial answer in 30 seconds is probably not even possible.


    1. Google did choose it, though. I don’t think the commenters are being hard on the actual person who drew it; rather, they’re being (rightfully) hard on Google for promoting this regressive, class-and-intellectual-diversity-don’t-count view of “diversity.”

      1. Yep. We can also blame them for putting the poor artist in such a criticism-inviting position as well.

    2. I agree. I hope that if the young student who created the doodle reads this they don’t take it personally (hard not to since some comments are pretty personal), doesn’t decide that atheists are a bunch of assholes and doesn’t become so cynical that they change their view or a possible future of a more tolerant society.

      Yes, people need to learn to take criticism. But what many here seem to expect from a teen is not reasonable. Do you remember yourselves at that age? Have you raised children?

  9. This doodle reminds me of the popular “Coexist” bumper sticker – both reveal a startlingly naive belief in the potential for religious communities to live in harmony. As long as a significant number of people believe all the answers to life’s mysteries can be found in a centuries-old sacred text, there can be no lasting peace.

    As for the “e=” symbol, a quick Google search yielded no results. However, I assume it’s meant to represent social equality on the basis of gender, race, sexuality, etc.

      1. The ‘repent’ sticker is of very low quality, the symbols used do not represent letters, but need ‘crutches’ to make sense, take the ‘P’ it is just a P with a star of David overwritten, or the ‘N’ just an N in front of a Yin-Yang symbol.
        And for the ‘T’ they use an Ankh instead of the better fitting Cross.
        Absolutely execrable.

        1. Agreed. Graphically it’s pathetic. And what’s the second ‘e’ supposed to be? Ban the bomb?

          And who is supposed to repent, and of what? Everybody-except-Xtians for not being Jeezus-worshippers, or what?


          1. That’s the “peace symbol”, I take it. So I guess the author of this collage regards “hippies” or something as another religion – which might in some cases be true – but it is graphically awful.

    1. I think ‘harmony’ (as opposed to tolerance in its original meaning) is really a false goal, actually in opposition to diversity.

      Diversity should be about expanding the range of opinions and options… providing a more resiliant group dynamic. With this kind of harmony, everyone is expect to subsume their differences to a group norm to hold the same opinions as the others and be suffocated into meaningless fluff.

      Some degree of conflict is necessary for society to progress.

      1. I think there’s a continuum from melting pot to salad, and I think we’re tilting a little too far toward the latter endpoint, at the moment.

  10. They should have shown white people doing yoga and Indian people eating hamburgers 😀

    Maybe the “e” guy is as close as they could get to showing an atheist.

    1. No hot dogs! Indian people eating hot dogs to go with the schtick Russell Peters does about his Indian dad wanting to feed white people the white people food.

  11. As others have said, the black kid’s shirt is probably a reference to e=mc squared, but I’d like to think the shirt only has “e=” because he’s telling everybody that not only is he an awesome MC, but he’s such an awesome MC that he’s an MC squared!

    1. Errm, nitpick, only the c is squared, not the m.

      (I used to have a standing peeve with editors of engineering journals who would give e.g. excavation volumes in Mm^3 – intending to mean millions of cubic metres.

      Trouble is, a cm^3 is a cubic centimetre, a km^2 is a square kilometre, so a Mm^3 is surely a megametre [=1000km] cubed – i.e. 10^18 cubic metres.)

      [/pedant mode]

      1. I know, but then I don’t have a joke. What was I supposed to do? Not make a joke? What are you, some kind of monster?

        1. You betcha! A monster with a fetish about the correct usage of units.

          I do apologise for denigrating your joke.


    2. Yes, but if the ‘e=’ was expanded the line of symbols would then read ‘google=mc^2’. Science diminished for commercial purposes, yet again.

  12. Notice also how we fumble when trying to refer to any of the characters- the … ahem … elderly man? The man with skin that has extra melanin?… why can’t they be just human beings?

  13. Another thing maybe to consider

    This is weird to do, but you can try thinking like the proverbial alien from outer space that comes to Earth about this : the art work suggests, to me anyways, none of these people get along now – or that they never will – hence the imaginary scene, telling us “I wish everyone would get along all the time everywhere”

    I think lots of these categories of people already have productive relationships, and the artwork – denies (?) – that chance to promote real change.

    …. anyways …

  14. My negative reaction has nothing to do with the quality of the doodle at all. It’s more of the mindless, relentless, hortatory pablum we are assisted with. I hate piety, and this is the modern incarnation of it.

    1. The modern incarnation of piety. That is a brilliant notion.
      It is a bit like this (what was it called?) Virtue display.

    2. Yes!

      Also, it’s just so trite. I feel like I’ve already seen so many similar versions of almost exactly the same composition. Frequently in some ad campaign or other. Boring!

      1. Signalling, ‘virtue signalling’ was what I was looking for.
        [BTW how is it pronounced? I’ve heard both sig-nalling and sign-alling, I suspect the first, but am not sure. Is there a Maven or Fundi (not from ‘fundamentalist’, as I thought, but from Xhosa ‘fundisi’: teacher or preacher) that can give an answer there?]

        1. I’ve always assumed it was sig-nalling. As in, sending signals to those in the know…(wink, wink!)


    3. ‘hortatory pablum’ when I worked in education we were knee deep in it. And ‘learning styles’ – the pedagogists loved learning styles

    4. Wow – that is good. I am not being sarcastic.

      But aren’t you saying the Google Doodle here IS such an example, and what else would it be due to if not its “quality”?

      Can you give other examples of this?

  15. Yes – it’s an example of naive faith in tolerant diversity which ignores the real differences in beliefs, situations, interests and aspirations of different groups of humanity, though it is nice to see harmony between people with anime eyes and small eyes, because that’s such a problem in today’s world.

  16. Also there does not appear (though I do realise this would be difficult to represent) to be anyone autistic in that little group, which given the designation that April has in the US is another mark against this creation (in anticipation, though thankfully not expectation, of challenges on this score I am #actuallyautistic)

  17. With respect to commenters – all this listing of ‘who was left out’ – isn’t it a bit like the ‘inclusiveness’ thing that the regressive left do all the time? There’s only six letters in ‘Google’, how many different races religions and special interest groups could the poor girl be expected to fit in?

    (Where’s the atheist? Okay, where’s the Pastafarian vegetarian skateboarding anthropologist? And so on…)

    In case it isn’t obvious, I just think y’all are reading way too much into a doodle.


    1. I take your point, but as these are, presumably, Americans shouldn’t at least one be a little bit chubby?

    2. “inclusiveness”

      I agree – and reiterate that I am left confused by the doodle – and other such hortatory pablum (oh that is so box-office) – because of it. I think the mind naturally wants to fill out a pattern when it sees it. Art works by allowing us to reflect, and it is possible that we can fill in things the artist did not intend. That might be the intention. And with that :

      “reading way too much into a Google Doodle”

      I hope so

  18. This is not diversity, it’s feel good identity politics. It would be nice if somebody added to this image a few lines of text above each character stating what their religion/ideas thinks (and would do, and have done to) of the others. And where is the none?

  19. There are no babies in the Doodle . Google hates BABIES! Come on, Google , babies, seriously, why would you hate babies?? What happened to “dont be evil”?

  20. I know I said I’m done and then kept posting- but just one more:

    Creativity is important in art – how is the artwork for this Google Doodle creative? I don’t think it is. I’m astonished I didn’t see it before.

    Interesting comments everyone, even if I don’t respond to everything – I can see them show up in the ol’ email.

  21. I’m shocked the artist included a Jewish person. She’s clearly not yet fully indoctrinated into regressive leftism, or she would know that Jews are never talked about as oppressed, and only talked about as oppressors (and thus must be ostracized).

  22. I apologize if someone already suggested this, but “e=” could mean that the answer is subject to interpretation. I feel like a terrible cynic for suggesting this, but not completing the equation confuses me. Of course, the completed equation confuses me too.

  23. I’m sorry that some of us are denigrating the artwork and “pablumistic” concept of diverse humanity potentially living in peace as
    depicted by a teenager. John Lennon was idolized when he wrote “Imagine” with comparable lyrics. This is an inclusive message, not the “virtue signalling” of our university folk who want nothing said or done that doesn’t pertain to their particular differences.

    Of various secular or humanist organizations, there are a number of approaches, from those who fight religion in court for separation of church and state (like FFRF and MRFF) to those who are inclusive of any set of people with humanistic goals (like American Humanists.) Some such organizations list what their goals by identifying religious concepts they are “against”. Why do they seem unable to view and frame humanism/secularism/ agnosticism/atheism with their own clearly defined positive values and goals?

    I agree that religion has not been one of the better inventions of humankind, but I don’t think demonizing all or most religionists is likely to bring more of humanity together in peace.

    I challenge us all to do better.

    1. Rowena, you are right, we are a bit harsh on the naivety of a teenager. We should be happy there are still these good intentioned ones, definitely so. (Never mind the path to hell being paved with good intentions, the path paved with bad ones is certainly shorter).
      I thought Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ always a bit too easy for a multi-millionaire.

  24. Dear Nicky: Thanks!

    Back when I could still sing (before thyroid surgery took my singing voice), I had no qualms about singing the lyrics of “Imagine” when the song was played. This song resonated with a broad range of people, including friends who were college professors. One of them was so distraught when Lennon was killed due to his loss to the world. Another played the song at her teenage son’s funeral because it was his favorite song and one of his dearest hopes for all people.

    Even though Lennon was a multi millionaire, he started rough and poor, and made his fortune by his own talents. I begrudge that less than millionaires by inheritance or Trump-type millionaires.

    To communicate with people, one has to use language they’ll understand and relate to. If this Google doodle resonates with some people, good. Important ideas simply expressed have power and are easy to remember, like “Do unto others…”

  25. My only real complaint is that this is a logo for a multinational corporation designed (seemingly for free) by a teenager.

    I also used to value diversity for its own sake, having been affected by many sourcese which *seemed* to suggest that. But they don’t, at least not some: instead, focus on the beauty created together, not just “diversity”. (See the end of ST:TOS “Is there In Truth No Beauty?”)

    1. I’d much rather have mega-corporations sponsoring humane goals with a little of their money than oil, coal and mining barons investing huge amounts of money into buying our elections at all levels. (I don’t know what the teenager may have received from Google of value for the doodle.)

      I think some of us much too easily group different humans into lumpen “diverse” categories, and once combined, there’s no further need to interact with them as individuals and really get to know them. Diversity is real, but particular individuals in a group of diverse people are not the same.
      Each one is unique. This form of “diversity” is mental and emotional laziness, and a useless concept. Not only useless, but detrimental.

  26. Another thought.

    I wondered if the art challenges me, or, “us”.

    Perhaps. Are we challenged to “put our differences aside and celebrate everyone for who they are”? Or, are we challenged to “celebrate our diversity”?

    I’m all for the former. It feels a little funny, but I understand that project. However, if that were the challenge of the artwork, what are the symbols still doing there?

    It is more likely the “celebrate our diversity” challenge. I thought I understood that project, but what happens when there’s ideas that should be rejected? For instance, if I’m going to celebrate the hijab wearers with crescent-and-star symbols on their full-arm-length shirts, how is it clear that there’s a distinction between the individual and the ideas which never originated with that very same individual?

    Still confused…

    I’d have to say though, this is the sort of reaction that good art generates – think people, think!

  27. Reading earlier comments, I thought of the Muslim woman with the headscarf. It is easy for a Westerner to accept a Westernized, secular Muslim. It is more difficult for many – including me – to accept a hijabi Muslim. So I think she belongs in the picture.

Leave a Reply