BIG G little g - What begins with G?

2008-10-15, Comments

That was Then

Google logo

There are two G’s in Google, a big G at the start and a little g half way through. Historically, the search giant has been sniffy about people googling, by which I mean verbing the corporate name and neglecting its proper case. Back in 2003 the beeb quotes singer Robbie Williams as saying (note the little g)

“So hurrah for googling. Science got me laid”

and comments

But what’s good news for Robbie is becoming a headache for folk at Google HQ. The company’s lawyers are trying to stamp out this sort of language.

Paul McFedries, who runs the lexicography site Word Spy, received a stiffly worded letter from the firm after he added “google” to his online lexicon.

The company asked him to delete the definition or revise it to take account of the “trade mark status of Google”. He opted for the latter.

This is Now

2003 marks the midpoint of Google’s 10 year ascendence. Since then Williams has faded but Word Spy still lists google

To search for information on the Web, particularly by using the Google search engine; to search the Web for information related to a new or potential girlfriend or boyfriend.

though it cautions

Google™ is a trademark identifying the search technology and services of Google Technologies Inc.

I thought I’d try a second source — one which claims to be the definitive record of the English language — and oeded google. I discovered google is a verb, though not with the meaning we’re searching for.

oed google

The OED reckons Googling still merits a capital, even if a citation omits it.

OED Google

Google at 10

Google turned 10 this year. As the beeb reports

People don’t search the internet any more, they google it.

Rich Skrenta goes further

Google is the start page for the Internet

(Surely that should be internet?)

As part of the birthday celebrations, you can Google! just like you did back in 2001.

Google! 2001

The search experience has barely changed — you get the result you want within milliseconds — but how passée the exclamation mark seems!

Small changes


In a post on Google’s corporate blog Marissa Mayer and Micheal Lopez describe a tiny but significant change: the Google favicon, formerly a BIG Google™ G, has become a little google g. In the space of just 256 understated pixels the company asserts its claim to the internet.

Do no evil

Jeff Atwood recoils at Google’s power:

Google’s current position as the start page for the internet kind of scares the crap out of me, in a way that Microsoft’s dominance over the desktop PC never did.

Should we be scared? Certainly the “do no evil” motto has changed from being precocious to portentous. The company which, in 2004, “does not do horoscopes, financial advice or chat” has expanded its portfolio.

Google does horoscopes financial advice and chat

It’s true. I sign into Google whenever I’m online. The search engine, I take for granted: I switch browsers more often than search engines, and indeed when Chrome is ported to my platform it may well supplant Firefox as my browser of choice. Gmail, Google reader and Google maps supply me with content. Many of the blogs I read are served by and most publish feeds via Feedburner: both Google properties. All these services are best in class, or at least contenders; all are paid for by advertising. And if I don’t like it, the competition is just a click away.

On the internet there’s little evidence of menace. The googlebot crawls discreetly from site to site, visible only to webmasters, harvesting pages which are bundled into fresh new search indexes at the googlefarm. On the streets the google surveillance machines are more tangible, more threatening. Being offline is no longer an option.

So what does begin with G?

Dr Seuss's ABC

The OED may be definitive but when it comes to big and little letters another reference has been more formative. The title of this post draws inspiration from Dr. Seuss’s ABC, a classic children’s book originally published in 1963, a year when Google’s founders had yet to be born. The ABC has this to say about BIG G little g





google googles

G… g… G

goat girl google googles

Oops, my mistake, that should have read

googoo goggles

Hang on though! Rotate the goggles by 90° and they look suspiciously like Google’s new favicon.

googoogogglesGoogle favicon