Google Mordor was originally a static Lord of the Rings–inspired skin I created for the Google Internet search engine sometime back in 2003. It was inspired by Peter Hosey’s rendition of the rings poem in Undernet #macintosh:
One Site to rule them all,
One Site to find them,
One Site to bring them all
And in the darkness bind them
I knocked up a Google skin to match this, to everyone’s amusement. I then proceeded (perhaps at someone’s suggestion) to make it live, writing a back-end in MacASP that would allow visitors to perform real searches with it. Most people had a few goes and then stopped, but my logs indicated that someone was using it as their regular search engine.
When my hard drive was Nortonned in 2004, I lost the original Google Mordor site. I challenged Jon Bell and Firesnake to rewrite it in PHP, using a cleaner, faster approach than my long list of over 20 sequential search and replaces (which, surprisingly, ran very fast – it was something MacASP was very efficient at). Firesnake took up the challenge but it was not to be; nothing ever came of that.
I did recreate all the graphics for the new version, and built a new mock-up showing her what Google needed to look like. I was never content with the new graphics which, while slick, did an even worse job of capturing the Mordor feel than before. Both the old and the new design had a definite Lord of the Rings feel, but neither truly said
Mordor to me. It was my lack of ability to capture and display the essence of Mordor in the graphic design that mostly dissuaded me from writing it again myself from scratch.
As of April 2007, nearly four years later, fellow Briton Michael Walker has once again brought Google Mordor to life, with a generic Google skin system. In addition to the default Mordor theme, his version has three other themes from which to choose. It also includes (at my suggestion) Google Mordor Maps, bringing Google Mordor closer into line with Google’s own developments. He’s also drawn new graphics that come closer, I feel, to how they should look.
- About Google Mordor – this is the only surviving page from the original site, but using the new logo
- Google Mordor Mark 2 – the mock-up pages for the redesigned version
- Google Mordor Mark 3 – Michael Walker’s skinnable Google front-end, defaulting to Google Mordor. Mike created all-new graphics for his skin, replacing mine
- ThinkNerd Google Mordor t-shirt design (based on the Mark 2 design)