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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

    Google April Fools’ joke not so original

    I graduate in under a month, which I’m told is a good thing. Some of my professors seem to think this is an extremely good thing, which I’m not sure how to take. Anyway, my original plan was to celebrate my forthcoming graduation by printing a copy of my resume instead of an article this week, but my editors didn’t like that idea nearly as much as I did.
    Since that idea fell through, I set out to the Internet last Thursday for the dual purpose of finding a new article topic and searching for jobs without an attendance requirement. I never made it past my homepage, though. As soon as it loaded, I could tell something was amiss: instead of “Google,” the page said, in its usual bright colors, “Topeka.”
    The story behind this new image goes something like this: The city formerly known as Topeka, Kan., changed its name to Google in a stunt to increase its chances of being chosen to participate in Google’s upcoming high-speed municipal broadband project. In order to honor that gesture, the company formerly known as Google, whose executives were presumably asleep at the time, changed its name to Topeka. (As an aside, I think being an executive at Topeka might be a good fit for someone with my skill set.)
    OK, sure, I can understand the former Google’s name change. Google was kind of a silly name to begin with, and Topeka’s much more fun to say. I’m pretty sure that’s all it takes to change a company’s name. But isn’t it a little more difficult for an entire city to change its name?
    As it turns out, no. It isn’t.
    But only if the city in question is Google, Kan. This actually isn’t the first time it’s changed its name as part of a corporate stunt; it has a bit of history in that sort of thing. In 1998, in response to the American launch of the Pokemon franchise, Topeka temporarily took the name ToPikachu.
    Now, I’ll be the first to admit having my fair share of embarrassing Pokemon-related stories from the late ’90s. When I was 12 years old, I owned a copy of “Pokemon Blue” for Game Boy and played it at great length. After hours upon hours of virtually non-stop play, I eventually caught all 150 of the bastards, and maxed out the levels of my top six.
    But never once did the thought of changing my name to CharMcNeilleon ever cross my mind. Topeka took the concept of Pokemon fandom to new extremes. Is it really that desperate to get a new name?
    I mean, it’s not as if the name Topeka has some dark, hidden meaning, is it? If I had to guess, I’d say it’s an Indian word meaning something like “a good place to grow potatoes.” That could be a lot worse.
    Honestly, regardless of the meaning, I have a hard time imagining anyone holding Topeka’s name against it. Especially when there are much more obvious things to hold against it, like the fact that it’s one of the most boring places in the Western Hemisphere. (Is that a case of the pot calling the kettle a pot? Maybe.)
    In fact, Topeka could come right out and change its name to Corporate Sellout, Kan., and I doubt anyone would judge it too harshly for it. If that gets it into Google’s broadband experiment, I’d move there in a heartbeat. I’d move pretty much anywhere for Internet speeds of 1 GB per second. That’s so fast that I might actually injure myself.
    I guess my point is that there’s not that much in a name. Topeka can call itself whatever it wants, and I still won’t want to live there. (Unless, of course, they offer face-meltingly fast Internet.) Similarly, I don’t really care what Google calls itself, just as long as I can use it to find pictures of cats with funny captions.
    For the moment, though, Topeka (the city) has reverted to its original name of Topeka. Changing its name to Google was only meant to last for the month of March. Likewise, Google (the search engine) has returned to being called Google, with its name change having lasted for just the first day in April.
    If I didn’t know any better, I’d say Google was just trying to pull some elaborate prank for the course of the day. (To fool me, you might say.)
    Just wait until I’m your new CEO, Google. Then the joke’s on you.
    McNeill Williford is a senior majoring in industrial engineering. He can be contacted at [email protected].

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    Google April Fools’ joke not so original