In Norman at the University of Oklahoma's new technology center, Google Liquid Gallery offers a panoramic view of the planet via Google Earth. The technology resulted from Google's now dormant “20 Percent Project,” granting employees a fifth of their workweek to develop visionary innovations that may or may not have a commercial application.
Some 160 miles from Norman, Pryor Public Schools students can use Google Earth software on free loaned laptops made possible partly through a grant from Google's Charitable Giving Fund. Most of the school kids in Pryor have never known a time when Google wasn't a computer search engine and “Googled” wasn't a synonym for “searched.”
Yet it's hard to believe that Google is only 15 years old, so vast is its footprint in technology and computing. Many 15-year-old companies have barely made it out of the garage. Google has made it to Mars, one of the destinations for virtual visits using Google Earth and Google Liquid Gallery.
Google's data center near Pryor is one of six such facilities in the United States. Its 130,000-square-foot space is the workplace for about 100 employees. Google just bought a second structure at MidAmerica Industrial Park and has made a commitment to use Oklahoma wind power for most of its electricity needs.
In Texas, a Google subsidiary (Motorola) is assembling cellphones that use the Google-owned Android operating system. That's right, friends: Google offers a consumer electronics product designed in California but not made in China.
Google's Oklahoma physical presence is growing. A Google executive is among the speakers at next week's Governor's Energy Conference in Tulsa. Prior to September 1998, Google existed only in the pure imagination of its co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
One user of the Google Liquid Gallery likened it to riding in Willie Wonka's glass elevator. For Google and its relationship to Oklahoma, things are moving up.