Sunday, 12 April 2015

Run With It: the Google You-dle

I assume that everybody who reads The Restless Consumer knows what a Google Doodle is, right? In case you don’t: it’s what you see when you go to the Google homepage and it’s turned into an image or an animation or something. The idea is to celebrate cultural milestones, famous people, public holidays and so on, in a fun way. The genius of today’s Run With It! is that I take the concept but then remove the cultural milestones and famous people and public holidays and the element of fun.

It was cool when they commemorated the 107th birthday of Grace Hopper (inventor of the compiler) with an animation that used COBOL. And the Don’t Stop Me Now animation for Freddie Mercury’s 65th birthday was great too. But there’s a bit of a theme with the birthday doodles, whether it’s Les Paul or Lucille Ball: they tend to go for dead people.

So, my idea? The Google You-dle. This would be an intensely practical feature that combs your Gmail for phrases like “party”, “born weighing $lbs $oz” and “mother and baby both well” to find phrases corresponding to likely birthday dates. It would log the date of the email alongside a name. Then, 50 weeks after the date of the email, you would go to search for something while logged into your Google account and see the relevant You-dle. I don't have much design imagination, so I'm thinking probably a picture of a birthday cake plus the person's name.

This gives you time to sort out a card, a present or whatever. Unlike Facebook, which only gives you time to guiltily write “Happy birthday!” on the person’s Facebook wall. 

Of course sometimes it would get it wrong. Likely errors include mixing up the date of the birthday with the date of the actual party you got invited to last year, or mixing up the name of the person who told you about the baby’s birth with the name of the actual baby. But if you’re pretty disorganised, it might be an improvement on whatever system you’ve currently got in place. And Google is combing through all your personal data and “tailoring” your searches anyway, so it might as well be doing it in a way that’s actually useful.

This is a Run With It! blog post. Anyone reading it is free to try the business idea described and attempt to make money out of it. If you do, please tell us about it! 

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