Google has periodically been turning its logo into different doodles since 1998 to mark holidays or special occasions. The first, when Google was still a tiny business, was only to signal that the staff would be away for the weekend. Over time, the doodles have become more ambitious. Last week, Google marked guitarist Les Paul's birthday with a playable guitar. In May, people woke up one morning to find a working version of the 1980s video game Pac-Man, invented 30 years before.
Personnel managers doubtless groan when such things happen. The Internet lights up with people searching for more on whatever Google is celebrating, and countless hours are lost as people play with the doodles.
It's not that big a deal for Google, which, Espiritu said, has only a handful of people working on its doodles. The payoff for the company is in good feelings -- and clicks as well, as people search for information on the eclipse.
"It's really a way for us to put a face behind the home page," she said. "There are people who work here. We're not just a machine."