April Fools & the “Is this a joke?” Spectrum

1 04 2008

One of the funniest byproducts of April Fools jokes and the tech startup, blogger community is discerning whether something is a joke. This year’s breed of jokes seem to be somewhat unoriginal, stuff you’d expect from the tech community with its own sense of humor.

So a funnier question is: if you’re a Web 2.0 startup, could your startup be an April Fools joke?

There’s a spectrum of joke businesses. A surface scan says you want to be something like eBay. Auctioning your stuff to strangers was a weird idea. You don’t want to be like Pets.com though, weighing your future on freighting pet food around the country for cheap.

I encounter this in reactions to rental businesses I mention in reference to interesting stuff that can be rented. Fake wedding cakes, baby toys, jewelry for rent: these elicit different levels of skepticism and downright laughter from people.

If you’re not doing something that at least someone laughs at, it’s probably not original enough to go very far. There’s actually no shortage of these businesses in Web 2.0: many of which will fail because it takes much more than a silly idea. But that seemingly silly idea is far better than something so unoriginal that it elicits no strong response whatsoever.

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