It seems the online world is the perfect place for all the madness taking place every April 1st, but I’ve noticed some of the pranks circling the Web today are really good ideas and worth discussing here on Wisdump.
Gmail users have long wanted a send email in future time feature to avoid unnecessary follow-up and back-and-forth emailing, but Google spins it around. In addition to “never delete another email again”, there’s “never send another late email again”. You can send an email timestamped as far back as April 1, 2004, which is when Gmail was launched and a clue right there how legit this feature is.
Many people would love to have custom time/date stamps on their emails—I know I would. But it becomes a case of deception versus productivity. Will Google continue to draw the line? Do you see this happening in the future? If you can do it with blog posts, why not emails? If you’ll remember last year’s prank, Gmail Paper, it’s another great idea that asks “why not?” too. (And, if anything, testimonials don’t make a product believable.)
Also check out Google’s other pranks for this year:
- Virgle (see also Larry and Sergey’s video), the first human colony on Mars
- gDay, which lets you search content on the internet before it is created
- Google Wake Up Kit, a system that sends increasingly annoying alerts (SMS, water bucket, bed-flipping device) to wake you up – it’s potentially a good idea, but it’s not as subtly executed as Gmail’s pranks so I won’t elaborate on it
Whew! Google’s been busy this year!
Darren Rowse on ProBlogger has launched a way to monetize Twitter with PayPerTweet. This totally makes sense because we’ve long wondered how Twitter could possibly be penetrated by advertisers, and we get a pretty viable answer.
Problem is, Twitter is a pretty trustworthy environment right now—you follow only whom you want to and the second they start spamming you, “unfollow” is always one click away. PayPerTweet is not just a prank but an addressing of the question we’ve all had on our minds: who will cross the line and bring advertising to Twitter? Are we there already? Will you tolerate it? Perhaps fake tweets like announcing PayPerTweet and other pranks—rickrolling is such a big thing these days—is the closest thing we’ll ever get to sneakiness (read: sponsored tweets) on Twitter.
Another great thing about the PayPerTweet announcement is that because it’s a blog-based prank, the comments section clearly shows who got punk’d and who managed to call BS. And you can discuss in a follow-up post the success (or failure) of your prank. We thus find out that PayPerTweet came from an actual proposal to advertise via Twitter for $20. Darren Rowse refused the offer.
Renowned information design expert Edward Tufte joins SlideShare’s board of advisors to help guide people in presenting visual information the proper way. The online slideshow service will employ technologies that automatically eliminate bullet points, chartjunk, and other distracting elements from presentations.
Even if you’re remotely interested in design, you probably believe the world will become a better place by throwing out crappy PowerPoint slides. But is Microsoft to blame for all the ugly, overloaded, and difficult-to-read slides? Can and should software encourage and impress upon its users the principles of good design? And since we know that PowerPoint, as well as Word, was made for business, should we expect people in non-design industries to have rudimentary design sense (i.e., should it be part of their job description)?
I wonder how many people actually clicked, or if Darren Hoyt kept track of how many did. Using this theme would be a really good April Fools’ prank; too bad no real theme files were created. Update (April 7, 2008): Somebody actually did a similar prank! Jasongraphix redesigned his site with the “90s look” on April 1st! There’s always the possibility that somebody out there actually finds this theme attractive. This got me thinking: did you really think that old school web design was tasteful back then? Do you think the current web design trends will be considered attractive in the future?
In 1998 I was a freshman in high school and we were supposed to create webpages on a slow, 16-color (yes, literally 16 colors only, not 16-bit) computer, with no graphics program, and had to make do with whatever images were installed on the PC. My geekier-than-thou classmates were fooling around with DHTML alerts and scrolls, and I was too flabbergasted at the limitations of the computer I was using to even see how it was possible to create a decent-looking website. Today, I see people worship the Apple aesthetic, but bash rounded corners and other bright, shiny, glassy Web 2.0 looks, then proceed to play tug-of-war between light, clean, grid-based minimalism and dark, dirty, anything-goes maximalism.
Update (10:48 PM):
The Serif announces that FontFont will release a Helvetica Serif, which is a digital recreation of the sketches by Max Miedinger’s granddaughter.
If the little nuances in the image above don’t already give away the impression that this is a less than spectacular typeface and couldn’t possibly match the sans serif that is Helvetica, that’s okay.
But know that having a serif version of Helvetica is a really big deal, quite an impossible one actually. (Update 04/02/08: Stephen Coles of Typographica.org reports in the comments there’s Helserif by Phil Martin.) Helvetica stands for everything a serif typeface isn’t. Do you think Miedinger would come up with a serif typeface just for the heck of it? Do we need a Helvetica Serif? Who should be tasked to create it?