By Jon Brooks and Katharine Fong

A thing of mystery. (Sara Bloomberg / KQED)
A thing of mystery. (Sara Bloomberg / KQED)

There comes a time in every online journalist’s life when he has to capitulate to the newsworthiness of that damned Google Barge.

So, uncle, we say.


Citing “multiple sources,” KPIX reported last night that the barge “will feature luxury showrooms and a party deck …  to market Google Glass and other gadgets to invitation-only clients.”

The project, which has been in the planning stages for more than a year, was created at Google[x], the secret facility that Google reportedly runs near its corporate headquarters in Mountain View. It is personally directed by Google co-founder Sergey Brin and is Google’s attempt to upstage rival Apple and its chain of popular retail stores, sources said.


KPIX also says the building is made out of shipping containers that can be disassembled and reconstructed in other locations.

Watch the video report here.

CNET broke the barge story last week, reporting that “Google was granted a patent in 2009 for a floating data center, and putting data centers inside shipping containers is already a well-established practice.” Google has a history of putting data centers in places with cheap cooling — a best-usage idea for the bay if we’ve ever heard one — as well as taking on unique projects like bringing Internet access to developing nations via balloons and blimps.

But others have suggested that the barge will be a floating store for Google Glass, or as a floating classroom to teach about tech. (See the Washington Post’s Google’s crazy barge scheme: Your complete guide for  more. And don’t forget, there’s another secret floating barge all the way on the other side of the country. Which means, of course, we are now surrounded.)

Whatever the barge is, no one is at liberty to say, at least publicly. Non-disclosure agreements have been flying all over the place. Even the U.S. Coast Guard, which visited the barge yesterday, had to sign NDAs.

Two nights ago, Jon Stewart weighed in, in a segment titled “Floaters” (!). Stewart noted Google’s ubiquity, now surrounding us on water and from the air, as well as monitoring every street in the country — and, with its effort to “solve death,” he said, the company “won’t even let us die!”

In keeping with “write what you know,” Mercury News Sports columnist Mark Purdy on Thursday offered up his own theories about the mysterious barge, summed up in a handy poll for readers:

What should the Google barge hold?

  • The “GoogleBarn” Warriors stadium (cheaper than renovating Piers 30-32)
  • 49er Michael Crabtree’s secret Achilles’ tendon rehab facility
  • A floating medical unit for injured San Jose Sharks players
  • Shame shelter for Cal’s non-graduate athletes
  • Storage for 50 dozen varieties of Oregon’s football uniforms, to be used Nov. 7 against Stanford
  • Isolation chamber for Bud Selig, after he is kidnapped by Oakland and San Jose officials, until he finally decides the A’s ballpark issue.

Suffice it to say, we’re all dying to know what the barge is for. But if Google has its way, as Stewart reminded us, that may never happen. Some other possibilities …

  • Offshore housing for San Francisco residents displaced by tech workers
  • Prototype of Google entry for the next America’s Cup
  • Dick Cheney’s new undisclosed location
  • Expensive yet too-literal tribute to 1980s soul group DeBarge
  • Floating fortress for Larry Page walking-around money
  • “Barge” one of few nouns left in English language not modified by “Google” — rectified.
  • The Borg have finally arrived.

Enjoy barge season. It may go on for awhile.

Google Barge Speculation Heats Up After News Report 7 May,2014KQED News Staff

  • Anders Westcott

    I saw this:

    “They march you up the steel ramp into the cold metal tube of the floating cyber prison. The harsh metal box and the thin vertical prison windows allow you to glimpse your last image of freedom. You are fitted with your retinal leash (Glass) and plugged into the matrix. You are now their tool forever to be deployed to spy on the others who are not yet assimilated.”

    Picket these tax evasion, rent evasion, Google Barge spy citadels!

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