OK, it’s that time of year… April fools, and as always the bright young things at Google have led the charge with a plethora of goofy gags. They have been doing this for so long that we have come to expect attempts at fun from the Mountain View pranksters and this year is no exception. I won’t waste your cycles with a detailed breakdown on the (I think) six hilarious pranks, but in no special order they include:
- Shutting down YouTube.
- A blue version of Gmail.
- A scent based search (presumably to go with Google Glasses).
- Silly Google Trends.
- Treasure maps on Google maps.
- A version of Google Wallet; which is able to print real cash.
Each spoof had real technology spent on it to stage, had videos with great production values, and each was less funny than the last.
In part, my grumpiness springs from the predictability and flat footedness of the humor (these after all are not people who were originally employed for their cutting edge wit) rather it’s the lavishness of the whole thing that has lodged in my nose. There is a Native American traditional ceremony called Potlatch. At these, the wealthy tribal principal involved either gives away enormous wealth or more spectacularly ceremonially burns great wealth in order to reinforce the position of the chief concerned. When I was a little boy faced with finishing off my cabbage at dinner, my mother used the “there are starving children in India who would love to have that food.” Like every kid I wanted to reply, “well mail it to them”… or some such smart remark. Today’s exuberant waste of resources on April foolery, only a week after Google announced that they were shutting down Google reader and by adoption striking at the heart of RSS, altogether smacks of Potlatch. Google, we get it… you are Mighty and Terrible. Your wealth is beyond calculation and we should indeed finish our cabbage… but guys…you really aren’t that funny. Would it have killed you to axe a couple of these unfunny projects and keep Google reader around for the rest of us to use and enjoy… and we promise to laugh at your jokes next year.