There’s a debate raging (e.g., this Django change) in parts of the database community over the terminology master/slave,” used to describe the relationship between a primary database and the servers which store copies of it for increased availability and/or read performance.

I will readily admit that my first response was to roll my eyes. I’m pretty sure I’m wrong to do so, however.

Of taxes and mortgages

First, let me sidetrack a bit to something that Dave Ramsey uses to cast doubt on the mortgages are good for tax purposes” logic used to discourage people from paying off their home loans early.

Yes, the loan interest is tax deductible. So what? Would you take out a $200,000 mortgage on a house you already own in order to reduce your taxes?

Of terminology and awfulness

So let me pose this as a hypothetical: I’d like to add the term rape to our technical vocabularly to describe the retrieval of data from a register. It’s close enough to the dictionary definition of rape that this shouldn’t be a problem, right?

Would you feel comfortable starting to use this term today? I certainly wouldn’t.

Had we not been using master/slave” for many concepts in the computer field over the last several decades, I hope many of us would feel uncomfortable introducing it today.

Of inclusiveness

I fall back on gut instinct for many things, and my gut doesn’t accept the following fact, but intellectually I know this to be true: my sensibilities are not universal.

Until today, I felt no conscious or subconscious qualms about using master/slave,” but that doesn’t make the terminology acceptable; it just makes me typical of my peers.

Like it or not, the field of computers (in the US at least) is a white male monoculture.

I don’t want to professionally interact only with white males the rest of my life. I don’t want to perpetuate the exclusivity that pervades this industry.

And I refuse to treat white men whining about political correctness” as my moral North Star.

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