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.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Pirates on the Santa Maria

We had our first pirate event on the Santa Maria. It went very well. We had ten pirates. Everyone got along. This was the first time I can remember getting thank you notes from participants.

The ship was fairly busy. The way we worked it was for me to stop the tour for a few minutes while I jumped forward from the 1490s to the 1690s and tried to recruit some new pirates. Once I finished explaining the tools of the trade they resumed the regular tour.

We had at least one family that came just for us and put a Jack Sparrow shirt and pirate head scarf on their son. I let him fire my small swivel gun.

Here are a few pictures: