Did you expect anything interesting to happen when you went to check your mail at Gmail? How long did it take you to identify ‘Shelfie’ – Sharable Selfie – as this year’s April Fools’ Day joke from Google?
The tradition of celebrating April 1st as Fools’ Day has been in existence for a while. Though there are several stories going around about the origin of the tradition, the most popular one places its origin in the late 16th century. When Europe started following the Gregorian calendar, the start of the new year was moved to January 1st from the earlier April 1st of the Julian calendar. However, some of the population refused to accept the change and continued to celebrate New Year on April 1st. The rest of the population made fun of them, calling them fools, and played pranks on them… or so goes the story. Is there a very pertinent hidden moral to this story? Like, you are a fool if you fail to embrace change? 🙂 But, I digress…
Today April Fools’ day has become more of a corporate occasion, with companies vying with each other to come up with the funniest ad, blog post and tweet. An ‘app’ to unlock an iPhone by rubbing a beard over it, a service to rent out your desk space, an inflight service where passengers can select their on climate (Cancun Afternoon, Standard Day in Los Angeles, and Chicago Polar Vortex, among the choices), homes with chocolate floors… these are some of the interesting products and services advertised on April 1st, 2014.
Netflix joined in with its offering of two new entertainment offerings – rotisserie chicken and sizzling bacon, which could be enjoyed online. And Youtube too got in the April Fools’ Day game with a video that claimed credit for every viral video on the internet, including Harlem shake and planking included.
My favourite one is an announcement from the St. Petersburg/Clearwater tourism office about sightings of a ‘Manaphin’ off the coast of Florida. Of course, in this day of hybrid names like ‘cronut’ and ‘dossant’, one can easily make out that a manaphin can be nothing other than a cross between a manatee and a dolphin! Look at the perfect timing of such a creature appearing exactly on such a day as April 1st! 🙂
Of course, it all started with Google. And theirs are the best ones yet. Google’s first April Fools’ Day joke, the MentalPlex, was an advanced search service where users could do a search by projecting a mental image of what they wanted to find whilst staring at an animated gif. And on the search results page, users got awesomely funny error messages. Samples include:
• Error 01: Brainwaves received in analog. Please re-think in digital.
• Error 666: Multiple transmitters detected. Silence voices in your head and try again.
• Error 006: Query is unclear. Try again after removing hat, glasses and shoes.
Another one, in 2008, was Google Book Search Scratch and Sniff. To use it, users were asked to place their noses close to the monitor and click Go, which will load the odours. After several attempts, when the hapless users will click Help, they were taken to a page that described the origins of the April Fools’ Day!
This year, politicians in Washington DC decided to join in the fun. The Whitehouse announcing the creation of the President’s Council on Beards, Ted Cruz getting a tattoo of Churchill with a cigar, the Republican party claiming the colour blue, Bill Clinton changing his twitter avatar… all happened this year.
And a last one that only a local can enjoy… Democratic strategist Joshua Henne named himself Governor Christie’s spokesperson and announced a press conference in Fort Lee, advising attendees to arrive very, ‘very, very, very early – as traffic has been known to build up at the nearby George Washington Bridge during rush hour’… 🙂
01 Apr 2014