Tomorrow is the 100th anniversary of the crossword puzzle, but if you go to Google today, you’ll see this:
Which, if you click on it, turns into this:
And you can use your keyboard to fill in the puzzle.
I’ve never been much interested in crosswords, and when I try I’m lousy at them, but some of my friends are addicts, thriving on solving the Saturday New York Times puzzle. According to Aisha Harris at Slate, this one is a bit easier:
Earlier this week I spoke with the people behind the project. The doodle team worked on the idea for a bit earlier this year, but the project was shelved when there was not enough interest among doodle staff. Their minds were changed when Google programmer and crossword enthusiast Tom Tabanao, a consultant in the project’s early stages, asked a colleague what he could do to help get it going again. When she suggested that he create a demo to drum up interest, he revealed that he’d already made one that was ready to go.
They eventually decided that a “legitimate crossword constructor” should be brought on board to help design the doodle, and Tabanao’s first choice was Merl Reagle, long-time creator of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Sunday puzzle. Reagle “appeals to a broad audience,” Tabanao told me. “You know there are some edgier constructors, there’s some constructors that do kind of crazy things with unusual letters … but it seemed like a good fit between Merle’s audience and Google’s audience.”
The goal, Reagle explained, was to make a “populist puzzle” that most people could solve, with ideas that would have “some sort of visual angle” after they were revealed. Reagle created the puzzle, Tabanao, who served as the lead engineer, offered some feedback, and then the rest of the Google team, including lead artist Brian Kaas, took over.
Knock yourself out. The Slate piece also gives a bit of history, including the fact that it was supposed to be called “word-cross,” but was changed in error by a typographer.