The recent batch of April Fools Day pranks reflects our culture’s obsessions and fears with overbearing technology and the creeping featurism threatening to distract us from the truly important things in life. But why do these jabs and hi-jinxes make us laugh so hard, yet a little uncomfortable? Well, for technologists there is that constant battle to both improve on existing technology and to avoid the over complication creeping in with the addition of each new feature. April fools day technology pranks should come as some relief.
The famous aeronautical innovator Kelly Johnson is credited with coining the term KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) in the 1970s, but society finds it necessary to reintroduce the same concept with terms like mission creep, scope creep or the highly contagious second-system syndrome referring to the tendency of small, elegant, and successful systems to have elephantine, feature-laden monstrosities as their successors.
Google received the most attention this year for parodying itself, their software bloat manifesting Google Nose, based on a ridiculous supposition that their users have been suffering from a lack of olfactory search technology.
Within the premium service industry, Virgin Airlines takes the award for their announcement of a glass-bottom airplane. “We are continuing this uplifting spirit by developing an experience that will enable Little Red passengers to appreciate the beauty of the British landscape,” a spokesman said.
Fancy Feast brand cat food managed to remind us, once again, that the anthropomorphizing of the common house cat is putting our pets above ourselves.
Not to be outdone, Twitter gave a shock of their own by suggesting that users are not fully taking advantage of their ability to abbreviate their communications using the service.
And finally, with Kayak.com’s sudden rise to the top of the travel search industry, why not apply those same ingenious algorithms to searching for your perfect soul mate? Here, efficiency in dating seems less of a joke and more of a test case. Don’t be surprised to see this feature introduced, for real, in a future iteration of their gold standard search services.