Yesterday I nearly killed a million people. It was a close call.

It all started as I sat in front of my drawing workstation and wondered how to finish a comic. The best solution I could come up with involved mocking Microsoft's Vista operating system. While I have no personal gripe with Vista, I know that many of my readers do, so it would have been a popular strip. After years of cartooning, I have a good sense of which comics will end up on cubicle walls and be passed around the Internet. This one would have been huge.

I wrote the line and leaned back, admiring my work. Then I had the "Holy crap!" moment. If I mock Vista, and it has an impact on Microsoft stock value, then Bill Gates will have a few billion dollars less to spend on humanitarian projects. Therefore, the comic could end up killing a million people. Those people are all strangers, but still.

I deleted the reference to Vista and went another direction.

I know what you're thinking. You think that a Dilbert comic isn't going to influence Microsoft's earnings. But what you don't know is that Dilbert has been used in several court cases where an attorney tried to demonstrate the date when obscure technical issues became "common knowledge" and therefore something that a reasonable person should know. The importance in the court cases is that a defendant couldn't claim ignorance about something that is so widely known it can be included in a Dilbert comic without explanation. If a Dilbert comic mocks Vista, the criticism transforms into "common knowledge" and could influence Mac versus Windows buying decisions.

Okay, granted, it is unlikely a Dilbert comic would have any impact on Microsoft. But given the non-zero risk that I could end up killing a million people, I decided to go another direction with the comic.

When those people I saved yesterday solve their malaria issue and get some food, I hope they chip in to buy me a card to say thanks.
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Jul 27, 2008
haha, i was wondering where you were gunna go with this blog. favourite so far :D im going to apply this logic to my everday life.
Jul 25, 2008
You could at least send it to dilbert.com registered users… It's a shame that one of your masterpieces gets lost without anyone seeing it!
At least I wouldn't tell!

PS.: I do sincerely think that BG's money to charity is an minuscule part of his fortune and earnings. But in his favour, he said that it will pass almost all of it to charity when he goes to meet the creator…
Jul 25, 2008
i thought you had a better philosophy than that Scott (http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2006-02-02/). don't you think it's delusional to think you can literally control millions of people's minds like that, anyway? only dogbert has that kind of power.
Jul 24, 2008
Deepish beat me to this comment. Is this blog different from common knowledge that a comic strip provides?

Then again, not as many people read the blog.
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Jul 24, 2008
But Scott: if Vista is an inferior product (and I would postulate that most of your readers would think that to be the case), that means it is DEFINITELY causing billions in lost productivity, likely more than off-setting any extra disposable income that Bill Gates MIGHT (but might not) lose later.

It wouldn't be the first time you used a Microsoft reference: you once had Catbert sleeping atop a monitor, proclaiming, "It's probably just the hype, but I bet this would be even better with Windows 95."

How is implying that Windows 95 (which was a huge improvement over 3.1, even though 98 was more stable) was all hype good/indifferent for Microsoft and Bill, but deleting a Vista reference is bad for them?
Jul 24, 2008
Scott, You've sold your soul. Who are you to decide what right and wrong. Insult everything and let the consumer decide!!!
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Jul 24, 2008
Huh, that's weird. I can't see most of today's blog.
Perhaps there's something wrong with my computer.
And I just had the IT guy reinstall Vista, too.

Jul 24, 2008
Now that it's common knowledge, thanks to your blog, can we have that comic strip please?
Jul 24, 2008
Do it, the world deserves to know. Like Watergate, but without the jowls.
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Jul 24, 2008
LOL, but it's already "common knowledge" that Vista is crap, so what's the problem ?
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Jul 24, 2008
Microsoft can get away with selling bad products because of its monopoly.

This is very bad for developing countries: instead of creating their technology, which could do with open source stuff, they have to depend on the mainstream... MS even sued some African guys that were trying to reverse engineer Word file format...
You are the economist, not me, but hindering competition and enforcing a monopoly doesn't sound very good for a country trying to develop and become independent...

Want to do something good?
Endorse Linux, a operative system that poor people can use for free even on old crappy computers and give them full access to the technology, so that they can inspect the code, learn, modify, develop, and be independent.
The Chinese govt is developing a custom version of Linux exactly for those reasons.

Bill Gates takes away the fishing rod and gives the fish.
It's nicer than just taking away the fishing rod, but still...!
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 24, 2008
Thanks for the blogpost.
I'm an attorney - and think I'll use this as evidence that Vista is commonly considered as "crap", in my lawsuit against MS Vista marketing: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/310004_msftsued03.html
Jul 23, 2008
Scott...just admitt it...you are afraid that the VISTA-Death Squad wires your PC with explosive or somehow re-routes a high-voltage powerline in your keyboard and make your death look like a tragic incident...Solution?? Buy Apple and stand up tall against tyranny...and crap MS sells to the world..
Jul 23, 2008
Royal Clowns have always had their way right since the days of Bill Shakespeare.

But Scott Adams mocking Bill Gates or one of his brands (Vistas) is another matter.

Bill Shakes did not have Intellectual Property Rights in his days of performing open-air theater.

While Bill Gates performs everything indoors, that includes open air. These are days of high commerce. Scott can earn his crowns by simply dropping names in his blog as he has done about Vistas.

Presidents win elections by getting their most dangerous foes to mention their names before elections. Does that ring a bell?

"We call on all @#$!^& to vote against the Bush!!!" and what happened? The rest of the voters got am'Bush'ed!!

Clever guys, these strategists!!!
Jul 23, 2008
Why not mock Islam instead - how many people could that hurt?
Jul 23, 2008
Please tell us the true reason why you did not run with 'Vista.' Were you afraid of being sued by Microsoft?

Incidentally, wonder what the law says about this. Can cartoonists be sued for libel? And is truth a legitimate defence?
Jul 23, 2008
You bastard! You coulda killed Kenny...err I mean, Vista!

Yes, I think it's high time it became "so widely known it can be included in a Dilbert comic without explanation". Nobody wants Vista and it sucks that you can't buy a PC without it nowadays (at least Dell still offers XP..). At least, make the version with the Vista mocking available to those who want to be able to print it out & put it on the fridge? Please?
Jul 23, 2008
super ego? hehehe
Jul 23, 2008
I think it is just as well that you didn't publish the joke about Vista, because frankly, I am sick of hearing the uninformed opinions many people have about Vista, and you admit yourself that your joke would not have been based on personal experience. I work in the computer industry as a Linux engineer, so I get to hear a lot about how much Vista sucks, but it is pretty funny to me when I press my coworkers for details that many have never actually used the system they are so vigorously trashing.

On a totally unrelated but interesting note:

Many economists see McCain better for stocks: poll
Jul 23, 2008
Well, ya know, you might have killed more people in the long run by saving those million people. Because of overpopulation and junk the world is running out of resources, maybe a million people still consuming resources will be the difference between finding the solution in time and the apocalypse. Who knows, you could have doomed the world by saving those million people.

But, the most probable answer is that we are both over-thinking to the extreme.
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