Google and Microsoft on Columbus Day

Click to enlargeToday is celebrated in the United States as Columbus Day. I happened to notice that my search engine of choice, at [ed. note: relaunched Bing as of Spring 2009], has a striking image (courtesy of Bettman Corbis archives), as you can see to the left.

As always with the new (improved!) Live Search, there are several hover spots on the page, with pop-up queries about the holiday, “sailing lessons,” Columbus’s trip to the Bahamas, and “the caravel,’ which turns out to be “a small, highly maneuverable, two- or three-masted lateen-rigged ship, created by the Portuguese and used also by them and by the Spanish for long voyages of exploration.”


So I wondered if the politically correct folk over at Google are celebrating Columbus Day, or Indigenous People’s Day as my friends in Berkeley call it.  Off to Google’s main search page, where I find that they have copped out by having instead a tribute to, honest to goodness, “Paddington Bear.”
The hover-link on the modified logo gives a pop-up saying, “Happy 50th Birthday Paddington Bear!”  The link forms the query, “paddington bear.”
This doesn’t appear to be a localization issue, or an issue of appealing to a global audience – both Microsoft and Google know my location, and in fact each is serving up a page targeted for me in the United States as I’ve already logged in (with a and a account, respectively).

Well, whatever (ahem) floats your boat….

Update 2009 Columbus Day: Same thing this year. Google: nada (not even a huggable bear). Bing: nice photo tribute to the Arawak Native Americans who met Columbus in the West Indies.

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4 Responses

  1. Thanks Lewis, another great post. That post made me check out both Google and Live sites again and run a few test searches to see what improvements have been made in live. I’m impressed. I think everyone should try side by side searches and see which scratches their itch better.



  2. […] I made a similar observation on Columbus Day, when Microsoft chose to honor Christopher Columbus and his explorations’ significance to American history and the world, while Google chose to honor – wait for it – Paddington Bear’s “birthday.” (See my post from then here.) […]


  3. Google took the high-road and probably decided not to celebrate the rape and murder of thousands of native peoples. No one celebrates “Columbus day” or cares about it anyway because it was not even the day that Christopher Columbus “discovered” the Americas (I believe that was Amerigo Vespucci)

    What’s wrong with Paddignton Bear anyway?


    • To each his own… You take Paddington Bear, I’ll take the legacy of discovery and open exploration which eventually gave the West democracy and freedom.


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