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Google logo today: Decoding Google's holiday doodle

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(Read caption) Top: original google logo.
bottom: 17 interactive portraits of scenes around the world.

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Google rolled out their holiday greeting doodle Thursday morning. Seventeen individual interactive images replace the letters of the original Google logo.

At first, you'll see portraits of scenes around the world.

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Click on the first image and you're taken to a Google search on St. Basil's Cathedral in Russia, and as you make your way through the digital postcards, travel to the Great Wall of China, the Sahara desert, Venice gondolas, and end with 'Up on the housetop,' click, click, click – a secular Santa song written by Benjamin Hanby in 1864.

Like the September bouncing ball logo, there's been some speculation of a secret hidden message.

Look carefully, you may notice that the blocks roughly form the word "Google." You may also notice that the order of the colors match the letters in the original logo, blue, red, yellow, blue, green, red.

The creator is designer Michael Lopez, who has been working on this year's holiday doodle since July. Along with a team of four other artists, this design took about 250 hours.

He told the Wall Street Journal, "We want to end the year with a bang." Well, Mr. Lopez, you've done it.

The doodle originally was meant to be displayed in installments but the folks at Google decided that it would be best to put it up all at once. It will stay up through Christmas.

It's been a creative year for Google doodles. We've seen birthdays, holidays and interactive videogames (see Pac-man) commemorated. We'll look forward to seeing what they have for us in the coming 2011 year.

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What was your favorite Google doodle of 2010?

Happy Holidays.