Hulu Almost Redeems April Fool's Day With Geocities Throwback Design

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April Fool's Day is like the office birthday party of prankdom: obligatory, sad and distracting. Not only that, but there is the distinct possibility that when you're flying through your RSS reader or Twitter feed, you might see something interesting and get punked. I hate it. I could only hate it more if you got pinched if you didn't wear the appointed color of April Fool's Day. (Which would be goldenrod, obviously; joke's on you.)

BUT! We have found one redeeming feature of this awful pseudoholiday, and that is Hulu's amazing gag redesign today. They patterned Hulu after a mid-1990s Geocities page with terrible frames, bad typography and a scrolling text bar! These tricks were major features of what I call The Gold-Plated Age of Web Design in which we had no tools to make things look good, so any page that wasn't black text on a gray background was hailed as innovative.

This was also back when designers still mostly made fancy chairs and clothes, so web page design was a little like a bunch of nerds getting together to critique each other's tucked-in t-shirts and faded black jeans. It wasn't, "Maybe you should wear a suit;" it was, "You need more robots on your t-shirt."

So, thank you, thank you, Hulu, for bringing these memories. April Fool's Day is now only my second least favorite day of the year. Stupid Arbor Day.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer calls Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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