July 15, 2011

Microsoft leaks "Tulalip" search tool

Microsoft planning social search tool called Tulalip?

By Laura O'BrienMicrosoft accidentally published a website called Tulalip online, suggesting it may be planning a social search service.

Fusible found out that Microsoft owned the domain socl.com, which revealed an non-operational landing page describing what appeared to be a social search tool.

“With Tulalip you can Find what you need and Share what you know easier than ever”, read the homepage. The name Tulalip derives from a Native American tribe located near where Microsoft is headquartered.

Microsoft briefly leaks social search tool Tulalip on Socl.comMicrosoft published prototype designs of a new social search engine called Tulalip to the URL Socl.com Thursday, but then quickly took down the website, putting an apology in its place.

"Thanks for stopping by," the replacement message at Socl.com said on Friday. "Socl.com is an internal design project from a team in Microsoft Research which was mistakenly published to the web. We didn't mean to, honest."

The brief posting of Tulalip on Thursday was found by a blogger identified only as J.B., who wrote about it on the website domain news site Fusible.com.
Comment:  This probably won't stand, but if it did...wow. This could be one of the biggest cases of cultural (mis)appropriation ever.

Did Microsoft ask the tribe's permission to use its name? Was it planning to pay royalties? I'm guessing no and no.

I can just imagine the white arrogance and privilege at work here. The thinking may have gone something like this:

EXEC #1:  Hey, let's name the search engine after the Tulalip Tribe. It'll be an honor for them.

EXEC #2:  What if they object?

EXEC #1:  I don't think there are any of them left. If there are, they're too busy drinking firewater and fleecing palefaces at their casino.

EXEC #2:  You're probably right. Besides, they'll never notice.

EXEC #1:  Exactly. Indians don't use computers. [Folds arms across chest to imitate chief.] "Me no like'um talking box. Me afraid it will steal'um soul."

For more on Tulalip, see Teenage Tulalip Filmmaker Wins Award and Tulalip Reads for Unity.

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