Natural Search Blog

Googledance 2008

The Googledance party was held last night at the Googleplex for SES Conference attendees, and it lived up to its traditional party-on-a-grand-scale reputation for which it has become known.

Googledance, beside building 43
Googledance, 2008

The theme this year was “Glow in the Dark”, and they gave out t-shirts which flouresced nicely under blacklights, and those endothermic glow sticks that can be linked up for bracelets or necklaces. In one area was a large Lite Brite station that allowed party-goers to make colorful messages or illustrations of their choosing with the translucent pegs.

One really cool entertainment was the “Glow Graffiti” – they had set up a couple of different stations to allow the crowd to do digital graffiti — using laser pointers to write on the sides of a couple of buildings. A camera tracks where one drags the laser pointer beam on the wall’s surface, then a computer captures the trajectories and redisplays the lines drawn back onto the wall continuously with a projector. In this way, one can draw all over the side of a building with light.

Google in Digital Graffiti
“Google” tagged in digital graffiti on side of building

I first reported on the digital graffiti phenomenon around a year ago in a post called “Laser-Projected Graffiti Ads on Buildings“, as an emerging form of subversive art which could be exploited by guerrilla marketers. However, after I reported on it, many others reported on it as well, so I’ve said that the phenomenon of digital graffiti has gone mainstream.

For those not in the know – both the laser projected graffiti and various LED light displays have been invented or innovated by a subversive group called the Graffiti Research Lab (“GRL”). You might remember the “Mooninite” bomb scare of Boston, which was sparked by a guerrilla marketing ploy using little LiteBrite-like LED advertising units left all around the Boston area — those units were quite similar to the Nite Writer idea published by the Graffiti Research Lab. It seems as though the GRL’s work inspired the planners behind this year’s Googledance. Not surprising, since the GRL provides these subversive art/marketing ideas in “open source” format, generating detailed plans and schematics for anyone to use for any purpose — something that aligns philosophically nicely with engineers who believe in open-source code.

One disappointment I had with Googledance was that there was no “Meet the Engineers” session as there has been in the past. I’d found those sessions to be surprisingly intimate chances to chat with Google’s engineers and to hear the burning questions people brought to them. While the app demos gave the opportunity to chat with engineers as well, it was still less worthwhile due to the chaotic party atmosphere and noise. Perhaps the party has just grown so big that it’s not really feasible to have attendees traipsing through hallways to interior rooms.

Click to see the rest of my Flickr pix of Googledance.

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