Personally, I find most April fool jokes to be pretty lame. I considered doing one myself, and had what I thought was a pretty convincing idea, but finally decided against it. Maybe next year.
This year, there was one definite exception to the lameness rule. It was well set up, clever and funny. Siemens killed it. Or, to be more accurate, they foolishly attempted to kill it. Fortunately, the Twitter CADville app is still alive and even now being tended by somebody with a fine sense of humour, as you can see from tweets like this:
Sometimes you will see duplicate messages. That can happen after downtime. You want better, write your own CADville #cadville.
Sometimes, the cloud is a big server farm. Othertimes, is a crappy laptop that needs to go to the programmer’s girlfriends house. Back in 1h
Once Siemens pulled Mark Burhop’s corporate blog post, in an attempt to protect Mark, Deelip removed his own related post (edit: now restored). But the very idea that you can hide stuff like this once it has been blogged about is plainly ludicrous. Returning wine to a shattered bottle would be much easier.
Ralph describes the CADville story here, you can also see it on Twitpic here, and the original FAQ has been reposted here. Now I’m posting about it on a blog that gets about 90,000 page reads a month. I expect there will be a fair bit of comment buzzing around the CAD community for a while, none of which will reflect well on Siemens.
If this gag had been left to run, I would have either not heard about it at all, or would have noticed it as a funny little episode that showed how cool it was that Siemens doesn’t fit the ‘humourless German’ stereotype. The failure of this futile censorship attempt is a classic case of the Streisand Effect. Apparently, there are people with corporate clout at Siemens who either haven’t heard of it, or delude themselves into thinking that social media are somehow controllable from on high. Nope, sorry, think again.
Deelip said this on Ralph’s blog, and it sums it up nicely:
Yes, this whole thing could and should have ended differently. What I find odd is that CAD vendors talk about social networking and social media and how they are embracing it in different forms. What Mark tried to do was exactly that. He got some of us to blog, others to tweet, irrespective of our affiliations, so that this prank (which is exactly what it is) would look as real as possible. I did my part.
Too bad Siemens does not get what social networking and social media is actually all about.
Congratulations, corporate klutzes, you have succeeded in making your company look completely clueless. Out of touch much? Duh!
Compare this with Autodesk. OK, Scott Sheppard’s Autodesk Love Maker 2011 joke didn’t have me ROFLMAOing or even LOLing, and it was pretty obviously an April fool, but it was still pretty well done. The fact that Autodesk corporate doesn’t throw a hissy fit over stuff like this indicates that it’s at least partly human. The fact that Scott can put a funny picture of his CEO (Pointy Haired Bass) on his blog and still remain employed tells me only good things about Autodesk corporate.
The contrast with Siemens is as stark as it could be.
Edit: Mark (not Matt – apologies) has now restored his post and provided an explanation (of sorts) about the post being pulled. I have asked for a clarification.