Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Google UFO logo mystery solved: It's my book!

Google has been playing a merry game with its users the past few weeks by substituting its logo with ones featuring a hovering UFO. There's no official explanation from Google, which is famous for altering its logo to tie in with significant events like anniversaries, holidays and historic events, but this is the first time the logo has changed without any overt reason. That sent the internet abuzz with speculation.

The first logo appeared last week, and at roughly the same time Google posted a coded message on their Twitter account, 1.12.12 15 1.18.5 20.15 21.19. Using the simple cipher that 1 is A and 2 is B, etc, the message was quickly translated as saying "your o are belong to us", which tied in with the logo as the UFO was abducting a letter o from the word Google and also refers to a famously awful Japanese to English translation of the line "All your base are belong to us" from the Japanese video game Zero Wing. This became an Internet phenomenon in 2000-2002, spreading as a meme far and wide. So far, so weird.

Then this week Google did it again, posting a second UFO themed logo, this time featuring crop circles. Again, the Google Twitter account provided a clue, with the posting of a map co-ordinate: 51.327629, -0.5616088. A quick check confirms that these are the map reference co-ordinates for 1-7 Woodham Rd in Woking, England. Wells happened to live in Woking, though at Maybury Road. However, it was in Woking that Wells wrote The War of the Worlds and it just so happens that he was born on 21 September 1866. So is Google planning a H.G. Wells logo next week to celebrate his birthday?

Could be, but there is a more obvious explanation. Last week saw the publication of my first book, Waging the War of the Worlds. I can therefore now reveal that Google is of course planning to celebrate this momentous event with a Waging the War of the Worlds logo. Look out for it next week, and in the meantime, you can buy Waging the War of the Worlds from all good online booksellers. (And perhaps even some of the bad ones.)