Mark Twain Again Follows Halley’s Comet…This Time in Google Doodle


How appropriate that in a month that a Google Doodle featured Halley’s Comet that Google would follow up by celebrating Mark Twain’s 176th birthday with a panoramic Doodle depicting one of the most famous characters he created, Tom Sawyer.

“I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it,” Twain wrote in his autobiography. “It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.'”


Halleys Comet Google Doodle

Indeed, Twain died the day after the next Halley’s Comet passing, named after astronomer Edmond Halley. The “freaks” were reunited by Google, though unfortunately the Halley’s Comet Doodle only appeared in the UK, whereas Twain’s Tom Sawyer Doodle appeared globally on Google’s homepage today.

The panoramic doodle of Tom getting others to do his work captures a Norman Rockwell like view of America. Tom’s whitewashed fence is also a telling Google Doodle, as it captures how Google loves having others help them do their work.

Google has been a firm believer in having others help – their Help sections are filled with questions asked of them, but answered by users. Website owners have been given tags to add to their sites to help Google better determine quality and refine their data. These and other actions save the company money by not having to man help desks, or develop filters to clarify data. CEO Larry Page has a Tom Sawyer look about him and he did have Google Groups and Forums built.

Twain, the master of American literature and acclaimed humorist, was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens November 30, 1835 and died April 21, 1910. “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and its sequel, “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” – called the great American novel – are his best known works. But he was a prolific writer, penning short stories, travelogues, and many news articles.

The publisher and noted public speaker also was friends with a couple other Google Doodle honorees – Nikola Tesla (Doodle appeared in July 2009) and Thomas Edison (Doodle appeared in February of this year).



Author Daniel Alef uses a Twain quote is his book, “The Gatekeepers: Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Google,” to draw a comparison between the invention of Gutenberg’s bible to the invention of Google, the search engine:

Google Inc., the company founded by Sergey Brin and Larry Page, has altered the world we live in with a profound impact on just about everything we do. If you have not heard of or used Google, you are as out of touch as the lonely hermit sitting on a remote mountain top or asleep like Rip Van Winkle. A close parallel to Google is Gutenberg’s bible. Mark Twain said, “what the world is today, good and bad, it owes to Gutenberg. Everything can be traced to this source… for the bad that his colossal invention has brought about is overshadowed a thousand times by the good with which mankind has been favored.” The same applies to Google.

In that spirit, I long ago grabbed the brush and helped whitewash the Google fence.

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