Thursday, June 10, 2010

Good Riddance, Google Background; or, Revenge of the Less is More Crowd

Lo and behold, my main Google page is back to normal, showing something close to the nice clean interface I've loved for the last 10 years. About the only difference that I've noticed compared to how the page appeared 24 hours ago is a link in the lower left corner that allows you to "Change background image".

I had a hard time decompressing this morning after I got home from work, so I dragged myself out of bed at 3:30 am, only to be hit full in the face by some visual monstrosity Google decided to unleash upon the world. It looked like something had vomited all over my computer screen. According to the Computerworld link above and this CNET post, apparently Google decided to end the 24-hour background image experiment after only 14 hours due to a bug that prevented a link from appearing on the home page that would have explained what the hell was actually happening.

Ah, yes. One more Google bug to add to my list. I'm sure the fact that "remove google background " showed up as a top search term for a while on Thursday didn't have anything to do with the early demise of the experiment.

I'm not sure if it was tongue-in-cheek or not, but the CNET writer noted that "Apparently many searchers on Google.com Thursday morning missed the company's blog post Wednesday night, and were confused and annoyed at the change....." I think I've looked at Google's official blog site maybe three times in my entire life.

The good folks at PCWorld and InformationWeek condescendingly blew off a "perceived" lag in loading times for the background image. I'm sure even these guys could "perceive" how at one point it took 56 seconds for the top menu bar to appear on my PC after the background image loaded. That result wasn't typical, but I wasn't too surprised when a half hour later I hit my Google home page again, went downstairs to get a glass of ice water, and came back upstairs just in time to witness the tail end of the page load.

I'm actually waiting to read that this experiment was a rip-roaring success, since it got the whole world buzzing about Google. It sort of reminds me of one story that was spun after the New Coke fiasco of the mid-1980's which claimed that the whole event was orchestrated by the marketing department to take Pepsi out of the spotlight for a while. I'm guessing the group-thinky gurus at Google probably figured out that a lot of us white page fanatics are Zen minimalists. Unfortunately, they probably figured we'd be better served if we were allowed to meditate while waiting for images of rocks and Japanese waterfalls to finish loading.

For my next project I'll try to find some forums that are clogged with angry posts where people are complaining that they are forced to click on a separate link in order to get background images to load.

(Now, if I only I could get my top Google menu bar to load quicker....)

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