Monday, October 11, 2010

Windows Phone 7 and Škoda 120

This blog entry contains no important information.

Microsoft is releasing Windows Phone 7. As they show in The Season of the Witch, it's time for a phone that saves us from our phones. I agree with that even though the ad doesn't clarify how Windows Phone 7 is supposed to achieve this goal. But it's fair because the ad says nothing else about the system, either. ;-)

Let me point out that I am not a witch or anything you've heard. I am you! ;-) But I haven't metamorphosed into you because I am a witch! :-)

From our Czech viewpoint, what's remarkable about the Microsoft ad above is the crashed car that appears at the very end, around 0:52. It's Škoda 120, the last model (except for Škoda Favorit) that the Czechoslovak carmaker produced before the fall of communism. You will probably get a Škoda 120 as a free gift when you purchase Windows Phone 7. If you need to double its value, fill the tank. :-)

I suppose that when Microsoft was shooting the ad in the French streets, they just didn't have enough money to buy (and deform) a wreck of a Renault or a similar brand, so Škoda was the best choice for their limited budget. :-)

When I was 13 or so, I thought that Škoda 120 was the 2nd most beautiful car in the world after Mercedes 190D. My and our aesthetic sense has significantly changed during the last 25 years. I wonder what kinds of vehicles will look pretty to us or other people in 2035. Can it be predicted?

I still like Škoda 120 in some sense but it's not among the top cars anymore. Mercedes 190D surely looks too blocky to me today. But it's pretty clear that making the cars rounder can't be the universal recipe for progress when it comes to cars' beauty. After all, if this were the case, you could make the perfect car - a ball - as soon as today. ;-)

But even some excessively aerodynamic cars don't look too attractive. They may have too little visual structure. It's OK if different pieces of the car visually co-operate but it may be bad if they become completely indistinguishable and inseparable. There may be some optimal compromise in between.

Do you think that this aesthetic sense of ours is objectively given? Would people in 1985 agreed that the 2010 models are prettier than the 1985 cars? Or did we have to evolve our perception? Do the perception and the models evolve simultaneously, influencing each other along the way? Or were the ugly features of the old models given primarily by their technological limitations?

And when we like some very old models - e.g. very old trains - is that because of some "compassion" in our appraisal, or do we really like them? If we genuinely like them, why don't companies produce much more stuff with retro design? Do we subconsciously appreciate that the technology of the previous centuries was a part of Nature?

I don't know the answer to these interdisciplinary questions in which psychology overlaps with engineering.


  1. With regards to your q. on old architecture and design, my answer is that we do like them independent of compassion. In the case of buildings the answer to why they are not made that way is simple: (i) buildings of a similar size to the old would be much more expensive due to the skilled labor costs for the ornamentations, and (ii) the constructions would not work for much larger scale buildings.

  2. Car companies have re-introduced retro looks, like the Chrysler PT cruiser, which tries to look like a 1940 Ford. Also, the 1955 Thunderbird look was brought back by Ford.
    PS You surely are not thinking of the Mercedes 190D 4 door sedan, were you, you must have meant the 190SL 2 seater sports car. My favorite to this day is the 300SL 2 seater, with the gull-wing doors.