Biomimicry is an engineering field that takes cues from nature to help solve and address human problems, and Google today launched a new website at its Google Green initiative that highlights some of the ways nature’s engineers can inspire and guide human behavior. The site uses gorgeous National Geographic images along with brief descriptions of how the natural antecedent relates to the human concept, and then provides Google-sourced tools to help people emulate that activity.
Is it basically an ad? Yes. Is it a smart one? Definitely. Google manages to pitch pretty much all of its major web- and app-based offerings and services in a single slide show, with direct integrations built in that make it possible to take immediate action based on the trends they choose to highlight. You can do a local search for recycled and upcycled decorating material, grab apps and movies on the subjects from Google Play, search for maps and join Google+ communities and more. My only complaint is that Google buries the science at the end of the site in linked academic articles for each animal or plant behavior, where those probably should have been at least linked somewhere in each well-designed spread right alongside the Google service advertisements.
Some might call this empty lip-service to Earth Day, which takes place today and probably would be better served by Google powering down a server farm or two for a few hours, but the concepts highlighted (including ride sharing, composting, energy conservation and diet modification) are solid ones and would have genuinely beneficial ecological effects if adopted by large portions of the community. Plus it’s an impressive example of web design in its own right, and a look at what Google can do with content marketing models which could be a key vector for it to exploit as the nature of online advertising continues to shift.