Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Microsoft and the Flat Earth

This is more about ships in general than piracy but I don't want this blog to goo too long without updates.

Microsoft has a new ad campaign for Windows Vista. It starts out with a sailing ship and the tagline, "At one point the world thought that the world was flat." There are some problems with this campaign.

First, no educated person in 1492 thought that the world was flat. Sailors also knew that the world was round since they had first-hand experience with objects vanishing over the curve of the planet.

The ad also shows a ship. It's a nice ship - a bark with lots of sails. It also looks suspiciously like the Charles W. Morgan, which was built in 1840. They might have had Old Ironsides in mind instead. This was built in the 1790s. I guarantee that no one thought that the world was flat when either ship was built.

A lot of our idea of what a sailing ship should look like comes from the very end of the sailing period. These were large, graceful ships with lots of complicated sails. Obviously someone from Microsoft wanted a good-looking ship for their ad so they chose one from the wrong century. Ironic since the only advantage that most people see from Vista is the new graphics engine. In order to convince us that there is more to it than a pretty interface, they used a pretty but inaccurate image.


Mark said...


That being the case, why are so many people upset at "Flat-Earther" being used as a perjorative?

Astonishing, isn't it?

Chad said...

I've always immediately discounted anyone who repeats the whole "people thought the Earth was flat" the second they said it.
Unless by "people" they mean the handful of folks who still think so.
In ancient Greece they knew the Earth was round, and even figured out the circumference pretty accurately.