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06.16.20

Offensive Words We Should Uproot and Eliminate From Technology

Posted in Humour at 12:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: Microsoft Enabling Slavery (master copy of an article from 10 years ago)

Tarantino Telling A Story: If I remove violence from all my movies then violence will cease to exist... You realise how stupid that sounds, right?

Summary: Technology is the domain of the privileged and the affluent; we can put an end to this inequality and the growing injustice by simply removing the principal barrier, which is bad words

SINCE it’s nowadays fashionable to simply delete any mention of any word that someone dislikes seeing, let’s go further and also remove the following technical terms:

  1. Monitor – we should say “screen” instead. Monitors are used in hospitals to observe the health of ill people. We must not cause people panic (tragedy relived), reminding them of the time they spent on life support or some near-death experience.
  2. Terminal – we must all say “shell” instead. Terminal is the state of a patient who is likely dead by now; when we say terminal it can trigger some bad memories, or someone like a long-lost loved one (often a relative or parent).
  3. Ncurses – we should speak of interactive shells; the religious user is likely to associate curses with very bad things, leading to angst.
  4. Daemon – see above. We must not remind the religious user of demons. Use buzzwords like “microservice” instead (with the caveat below).
  5. Services – this term should be reconsidered; it’s too similar to servant, which is a synonym of slave in some contexts.
  6. Wiki – use the term “collaborative page” instead. Wiki is Hawaiian for “fast” or “quick” and there may be racial connotations associated with Hawaii, which is historically a disputed territory with mixed roots and language disputes.
  7. Web (or World Wide Web) – Arachnophobia means that the term can invoke negative feelings or overt fear. Use the term “Interpage” instead.
  8. Mouse – same as above, albeit fear of rodents. Say “pointing device” instead.
  9. Command/instruction/directory – this implies a relationship of subjugation and/or servitude; say “guidance” instead.
  10. Laptop – there may be sexual connotations impacting that word. So “portable computer” would be better. No more bad jokes in the workplace.
  11. Home – /home needs to be aliased or replaced by /location as some people are homeless and this directory structure may remind them of their misfortune.
  12. File manager – the term manager implies inequality; it should be called file organiser instead.

There are no reasons not to implement most of the changes above. After all, this only requires changing some texts and strings in a few places and it doesn’t cost anything. What’s more, if fewer people find computers offensive, then more of them will adopt computers. It will improve the diversity of computer users.

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