There used to be a kind of art to April Fools’ Day.
In 1977, for example, The Guardian famously concocted an island state named San Seriffe, which was essentially a series of puns dreamed up by its sub-editors.
The newspaper memorably received a number of angry letters from travel agents who had been fending off people wanting to book holidays there.
Which is why the corporate tech industry’s attitude to April Fools’ rubs me up the wrong way.
Yes, it was very fun and cute that Google enabled people to play Pac Man on Google Maps, ThinkGeek’s literal steam-powered, as opposed to Steam-powered console was a nice little play on words, and Samsung’s Blade Edge chef’s knife attachment took the defining feature of the Edge smartphone line to a logical extreme.
But all these jolly japes are missing the point, I feel. Sure, they were clever and raised a smile, and genuine work went into creating all the mockups in Photoshop.
The thing is that they aren’t really April Fools’ gags, are they? April Fools’ is about practical jokes and yes, maybe a little embarrassment. A proper tech industry April Fools’ gag would be telling your colleagues that IT has activated the voice command function on the printer.
But 10 minutes in Photoshop to create a product so implausible it would be laughed off the shelves?
That does not really cut it.
If you’re going to commit to April Fools’, commit properly, we say.
Downtime is putting the tech industry on notice. Next year, we want to see you put some effort into a prank that makes us go ‘what the…’