Tag Archives: New York

Adding an origami doodle to the fold

We’re excited to have Robert J. Lang here to talk about today’s doodle in honor of Akira Yoshizawa. Lang is considered one of the world’s masters of the art of origami. His design techniques are used by origami artists around the world, and he lectures widely on the connections between origami art, science, mathematics and technology. – Ed.

Akira Yoshizawa (1911–2005) is widely regarded as the father of the modern origami art form. Over the course of his life, he created tens of thousands of origami works and pioneered many of the artistic techniques used by modern-day origami artists, most notably the technique of wet-folding, which allowed the use of thick papers and created soft curves, gentle shapes and rounded, organic forms. He also developed a notation for origami that has now been the standard for origami instruction for more than 50 years.

Yoshizawa took up Japan’s traditional folk art of origami in his 20s, and eventually left his job at a factory to focus full-time on his origami creations. His work came to the attention of the west in 1955, after an exhibition of his works in Amsterdam, and rapidly spread around the world. In his last decades, he received worldwide renown and invitations from all over, culminating in his award in 1983 of the Order of the Rising Sun.

I had the great fortune to meet Yoshizawa several times. In 1988, he came to New York to visit The Friends of the Origami Center of America, and spoke at a panel discussion I attended. There, he addressed a wide range of topics: one’s mental attitude, the importance of character, of natural qualities, of having one’s “spirit within [the artwork’s] folds.” Although he was the consummate artist, his work and approach was infused with the mathematical and geometric underpinnings of origami as well as a deep aesthetic sense:

“My origami creations, in accordance with the laws of nature, require the use of geometry, science, and physics. They also encompass religion, philosophy, and biochemistry. Over all, I want you to discover the joy of creation by your own hand…the possibility of creation from paper is infinite.”

While there were other Japanese artists who explored their country’s folk art contemporaneously with Yoshizawa, his work inspired the world through a combination of grace, beauty, variety and clarity of presentation. To him, each figure, even if folded from the same basic plan, was a unique object with a unique character.

In 1992, I was invited to address the Nippon Origami Association at their annual meeting in Japan, and my hosts arranged for me to meet the great Yoshizawa at his home and studio. When I was ushered into the inner sanctum, Yoshizawa greeted me, grinning, and then proceeded to show me box after box after drawer of the most extraordinarily folded works I had ever seen.

When I was first approached by Google to help create a doodle commemorating Yoshizawa’s work, I jumped at the chance. Google set the parameters of the design: the Google logo, of course, but to be folded with origami and then decorated with examples of Yoshizawa’s designs.

I created examples of two logo styles for Google to choose from: one in a classic origami style and a more three-dimensional version based on pleats. Google liked the pleated version, so I set about designing and folding the rest.

Two versions of the Google “G,” each folded from a single sheet of paper.

To design these (or any letterform in this style), one can take a narrow strip of paper, fold it back and forth to trace the outline of the desired letter, unfold it, mark the creases, then arrange multiple copies of the strip pattern on a larger rectangle. The resulting crease pattern is moderately complex, and it gives a lovely 3-D form when folded, but conceptually, it is quite straightforward.

If you’d like to try to create your own origami doodle at home, you can download PDFs of the crease patterns for each of the letters. Print them out and fold on the lines: red=valley fold, blue=mountain.

G o o g l e

The butterflies in the doodle are folded from one of Yoshizawa’s earliest, yet most iconic designs. It is deceptive in its simplicity, but can express great subtlety in its shaping and attitude. The combination of simplicity and depth is part of the essence of origami, and is key to Yoshizawa’s work and legacy.

“Geometry alone is not enough to portray human desires, expressions, aspirations, joys. We need more.” — Akira Yoshizawa, 1988

Celebrating our history, accomplishments and community during Black History Month

If you walk down the halls of our New York office, you might learn something about the history of technology. This month, our walls showcase the contributions of Black inventors in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in celebration of Black History Month.

Black History Month, which is every February in the U.S., provides us with an opportunity to recognize the history and diversity of the communities where we operate. Yesterday, our midwestern Googlers listened to the music of Michigan’s only Black and Latino Orchestra and next week, Dr. Clarence Jones will be speaking to our Bay-area Googlers about writing Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. This is just a small sampling of the dozens of celebrations Googlers are hosting all month long.

Black History Month also gives us a chance to celebrate the diversity of our Googlers and highlight some ways we work with underrepresented groups. One of my favorite examples is the story of the Black Googlers Network (BGN). In June 2006, a group of Googlers looking to connect and foster community among Black colleagues got together to create an internal networking group. The Black Googlers Network started as a mailing list, but quickly grew into much more. Passionate about growing the next generation of Black leaders in the technology industry, BGN partnered with our university programs team to strengthen our relationships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). As a result, we’ve not only increased our recruiting presence at these schools, but are now also partnering with HBCU faculty to develop STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum, encouraging more students to pursue degrees in these areas and prepare them for careers in technology.

Members of our BGN are also shaping the way we do business. In May of 2009, two recent grads in our Ann Arbor office saw an opportunity, and what started as an idea bounced around between two twenty-somethings turned into an official Google program. The idea was to help minority-owned small businesses grow their online presence and, just a few months later, the idea became a reality when Accelerate with Google officially launched. The program has since grown into a team of several dozen Googlers, all working to get small, minority-owned businesses online and helping those business owners connect with one another.

Our passionate Googlers, like those behind BGN and Accelerate, allow us to better connect with the Black community and help to create an inclusive and diverse workplace. As we throw dozens of celebrations around the country in our Atlanta, Chicago, Ann Arbor, New York, Los Angeles and Mountain View offices to mark Black History Month, we invite you to join us by following our Google for Students and Life at Google pages on Google+, where we’ll be hosting photos, recaps and hangouts throughout the month.

Take a walk on the sell-side

In June, we announced that we are acquiring Admeld, a New York-based company that helps large publishers (also known as the “sell-side” by people, like me, who live and breathe display advertising) maximize their revenues from online advertising. We’re pleased that the U.S. Department of Justice has today cleared this deal. We’ll close the acquisition in the coming days and then start the real work—building improved products and services that help our publisher partners to make more informed decisions across all their ad space, and to grow their revenues.

The opportunity for major online publishers is huge…and growing. People are spending more and more time consuming online content across numerous devices, advertisers are running more online and mobile campaigns to reach them; and ads continue to get more engaging and relevant. This represents an unprecedented moment for publishers. We believe that improved technology and services can help publishers seize it and make online advertising work much better.

For now, it’s business as usual—Admeld’s products will operate separately to Google’s existing solutions (such as DoubleClick for Publishers and the DoubleClick Ad Exchange). But over time, there are opportunities to bring the best of both businesses together in a variety of ways; and to develop entirely new solutions, too.

As we do this, Admeld and Google are guided by some core shared beliefs:

  • We want to give publishers more control over their ad space, and offer more flexible ways to manage and sell it. Publishers’ businesses should influence the technology they use; not the other way around
  • We believe that publishers can make better decisions to maximize their revenues when they have better insights at their fingertips
  • We envisage a much simpler system that enables publishers to manage and sell their ad space—across desktop, video, mobile, tablets and more

The content produced by Google’s and Admeld’s publisher partners is the lifeblood of the Internet. We can’t wait to start building the next generation of tools and services that will help them grow their businesses.

(Cross-posted on the DoubleClick Publisher Blog)

Raising awareness for breast cancer through the Pink Pin Initiative in NYC and beyond

Every October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time when organizations and individuals around the world come together to raise awareness to support the fight against breast cancer.

This year, Google joined in and partnered with Susan G. Komen for the Cure on the Pink Pin Initiative, which challenged local businesses in New York City to rally their customers, friends and families around breast cancer awareness. Using Google’s products, including Maps, YouTube, Picasa and Google+, we made it easy for local businesses and New York residents to show their support for the cause. On an interactive website, pinkpin.com, people could register their businesses on the Pink Pin Map, share their experiences by uploading their own videos and photo stories, as well as donate to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

More than 300 businesses signed up to participate in the first 24 hours, and we saw an outpouring of public support from both businesses and individuals, demonstrating how small, random acts of participation can translate to larger scale impact. In fact, some businesses took it upon themselves to take Pink Pin a step further. One New York business offered $100 of free services for every $100 donated. A Brooklyn restaurant hosted a one-day “Dine-out” for Pink Pin, where a percentage of their earnings for that day went to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Pink Pin was a tremendous demonstration of what people will do if you give them the tools to use technology for good. We’re thrilled that Pink Pin has been so positively received by New Yorkers and hope to continue and expand our efforts next year.

Googlers also celebrated Breast Cancer Awareness month in 23 of our offices around the globe. In addition to health talks encouraging Googlers to learn more about breast cancer prevention, we heard a panel of survivors speak in Mountain View, held walk/runs in California, New York and Washington, and participated in flash mobs to raise awareness in Dublin and London. On Wednesday, October 19, we celebrated a global “Wear Pink, Think Pink Day.” We also encouraged donations (and gift matching!) to organizations like Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. You can see a photo album of all our activities below: