originally brin and page wanted to indicate that they were away at the anarchic anti-corporate burning man festival and so used the stick man icon to let people know they were away, just in case the servers went down.
as much as anything, i would be interested to know what kind of influence burning man has had on the tech industry. for me, it was one of those examples where the indiginous counter ideology was offering up the best critique of the american empire. and maybe google doesn’t have the fixation on monetization that cynics claim. sure, they haven’t done badly, but i see that as google having a more wily understanding of the human condition.