Thursday, January 10, 2008

Microsoft to Replace Us with Robots (Sort Of)

I'm a bit ashamed that the holidays have thrown me for such a blogging loop, when Daddy Types can have a new baby arrive and hardly miss a beat. Speaking of Daddy Types, he posted today on Microsoft's ... um ... "innovative" campaign for its new home server, which was a reminder that a reader suggested that I look into this way back in 2007 ...

The background is that Microsoft now wants to sell you a home server, somewhere where all of your data can live and be accessed by everyone's machine. It's not a bad idea, really, in an age of multi-computer households. But they've launched a marketing campaign around the idea of calling it a "stay-at-home server," and serving up a whole universe of ads and such that draw upon the richest at-home parent stereotypes. You can get an idea at

CNet says the whole marketing effort "deserves a time out." The New York Times -- dredging up a stereotype of its own, says the campaign "presents the server as a fish out of water like a stay-at-home dad."

I'm weirdly encouraged by all of this. Clearly, the creative types at Microsoft thought the kind of retrograde stereotypes they were using were so hopelessly out of date that people would find it funny. Unfortunately, we're not there yet. But the fact that Microsoft thinks that ideas like the cupcake-baking wife and stern '50s-era dad are laughable is good news. Because those stereotypes a joke. But -- like so many other stereotypes -- dredging them up isn't automatically funny.


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