Remembrance, versus reverence and normalisation

Following on from the news about terminology changes in the codebase of both GitHub and OpenZFS, I joked in our company's chatroom about how our new hires like me might be the last contingent to test on Splunk's current cluster terminology. To my surprise, a colleague quickly replied, saying that such changes are indeed afoot.

I have to admit, the urge to roll my eyes was strong. In fact, my response was, “Satire is hard these days.” But, on second thought, there is something to be said for these changes, if less about the motives, so publicly expressed, behind them. A few years ago, I wrote about the Confederacy statues being demolished in the American south. To paraphrase, there is a very important difference between remembrance and reverence. We are not cleansing history with these acts, as some have argued, but failing to revere them any longer.

Now, few would call referencing the terms of slavery — in software and code, devoid of any other context — reverence. I could see an argument being made for calling it normalising, though. And, to go further, that the outcomes from both reverence and normalisation are exclusively somewhat to extremely negative.

As I get older, I realise how difficult it is to objectively assess things that have been a part of one's experiences and observations for most of one's life. Whether something came to be five years before your birth, or 50 years before, will be indistinguishable to you. (Well, let me quickly clarify that that is the perspective of a cis white male, very obviously, and, far from coincidentally, likely also the perspective of the majority of eye-rollers right now.) But that fact alone is poor rationale for it to outlive you as well.

I did have some success with the home set-up today too: rclone is currently backing up a Timeshift snapshot to Google Drive using a service account I set up for the purpose. I wonder how long the term clone will be in common use.

End of Day 37

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