Features

A Bone of Contention

Image of Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant
By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant

THE recent outrage expressed by Opposition MPs in response to a metaphorical remark by the Prime Minister about responding to “every dog that barks” provided another bone of contention to be fought over by our main political parties. Despite accusations of fanged (or feigned) ferocity about the choice of metaphor which was made two weeks ago, it still suggests the standard that public servants and representatives are held to — or should be held to — when speaking or conducting government business.

The world of ICT is not immune from the vestiges of previously-acceptable language, metaphor or idiom. For example, we commonly refer to machines as servers, as in: file servers, web servers, and print servers. If you dig deeper and explore the history of such technology, you might discover the language used to describe its inner workings.

For example, you may encounter references to master/slave devices and protocols, where the slave device takes over to continue providing service whenever the master device is unavailable, thereby promoting itself to become the new master! Interestingly, the Global Language Monitor found the term ‘master/slave’ to be the most egregious example of political correctness in 2004. Hold your horses (or leash your dogs) before using such language in the future. A more politically-correct reference for such terminology is now master/replica or client/server.

You may also encounter terms such as a ‘killer app’, used to describe a must-have feature or product. For example, the availability of an electronic spreadsheet is credited as the killer app that made microcomputers an attractive investment. When a programme stops responding, us IT people refer to killing the unresponsive process. Let’s face it, in general discussion, some terms that were previously spoken with literary abandon are slowly falling foul of modern-day sensitivities and political-correctness and, unfortunately, we may only discover that after offending someone.

Having used my own share of such terms in ignorance, I have come to recognize when a non- politically-correct term is being used innocently, or is calculatedly loaded with venom. To avoid being brushed the wrong way, maybe we should all be minding our language, or risk getting a bad name and being hung in the process.

To share your views, contact the author at: www.datashore.net or via The VOICE.

About the Author: Dr.Lyndell St. Ville is an ICT Consultant based in Saint Lucia, offering expertise in data management, systems design, and policy planning.

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