One thing the Internet always bands together for is April Fools Day. You can always count on even the biggest websites to pull out a gem of a gag or phony article. And YouTube always has a little fun with the holiday as well, and this year is no exception. Apparently it’s the 100th Anniversary of YouTube. Head over to the YouTube blog to step back 100 years and see what online video would have looked like in 1911.
It’s all played pretty straight, and begins with a note from present-day YouTube personnel:
“It’s hard to believe that just a century ago, YouTube was a fledgling video site for paupers and presidents alike. Today, we celebrate 100 years of YouTube, and we thought we would reflect on our inaugural year with a re-print of our first blog post from 1911. In honor of this milestone, today’s homepage is a reproduction of how you might have viewed it 100 years ago. Check out some of the most popular videos of the time and be sure to try out our new upload mode which summons a horse-drawn carriage to pick up your video submission from your home. Here’s to another epoch of great video!”
The accompanying video is pretty awesome, with nods to Keyboard Cat, Bed Intruder, Annoying Orange, and even Rickroll:
What follows after the video is a “guest post” from President William H. Taft, as it was “written” in 1911. The whole thing is pretty quaint, written in the way a president from 1911 would talk. It includes references to things like the construction of the Panama Canal and “Ms. Curie’s so-called ‘radium discovery.'”
In addition, there are links strewn like old-timey Easter eggs throughout the “guest post” to things like Buster Keaton videos and all sorts of other 1911-era clips.
You know how YouTube posts always end with italicized text telling you the most recent video that article’s author had watched? William H. Taft’s was this one:
In addition to all that… YouTube.com has a new 100-year-old logo, and most videos on the site today also have a little yellow “1911” button on the bottom right corner. Clicking that button will allow you to watch an aged version of the clip, complete with yellowed tint, scratches on the “film,” and a player-piano soundtrack. The William Taft video above has the “1911” button on it if you want to take that for a spin, but only if you watch it on the YouTube page.
There’s even a specialized spotlight section on the main Browse page that features 1911-related videos–it cycles in three different featured clips every time you refresh the page:
I think what I love most about the gag is the commitment. They went all out. It’s not just a funny tongue-in-cheek article. It’s an article, a video, a guest post from a past president, multiple links to extremely old footage, a new logo, the “1911” button… they really thought this thing through and put a lot of work into it.
They’re not alone–not even in the online video space. Hulu created a similar April Fools gag by taking their home page design back to what looks like 1996. All the videos featured are 1996-era videos like R.E.M.’s “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” or an episode of Murder One:
It’s good to see that for at least one day the Internet can put aside its differences and just have a little fun at its own expense. But not us. We’re far too serious. We would never do anything like that.