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#off-topic
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2020-07-14
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aaelony00:07:52

it's like taking notes even when the material is being recorded. The act of taking the notes marshals your greater attention. Same with making plans.

andy.fingerhut02:07:31

The master/slave language applied to machines and programs seems --- just so benign to me. I just don't get it.

Aron02:07:25

The idea is - and I am not really subscribing to it, but I have been studying the phenomena for a long time now - that even just using the words highlights something that people want to completely erase. It's easy to get over the original meaning if you never actually use the word like that. But for many of our fellow human beings, those words primarily mean something else and it doesn't really work out to intentionally forget it so that they can use them at ease like (for example) I would do.

Aron02:07:05

As I said, I have been studying this for many years, so feel free to ask anything 🙂 Can give sources too if it's important.

andy.fingerhut02:07:17

Sure, I know those words are used for human slavery. Got it. Check. But how do those words primarily mean that human abomination of a relationship to a person who has never seen it, and has no living other people they know who has ever seen it?

andy.fingerhut02:07:15

Are we allowed to say that one ought to master skills? Don't be a slave to fashion?

Aron02:07:11

I think you would get pushback for those usages as well.

andy.fingerhut02:07:28

So erase the words? Or limit their usages solely to refer to a human master/slave scenario?

Aron02:07:58

also, 'allowed' is always going to be dependent on where are you and who is taking part in the discussion, no? You already talk differently with different people in different contexts. I would get banned from here if I get overly rude and obstructive, and everyone would agree that that's a good thing. So the practice is not new.

Aron02:07:12

Like how bad words used to be a problem on radio/tv for conservatives.

andy.fingerhut02:07:40

I get that there are appropriate and inappropriate topics for different audiences, things that different people will get offended by.

andy.fingerhut02:07:57

This seems different, in eliminating the use of words in contexts where they have different meanings.

Aron02:07:05

Let me try to explain, instead of answering your questions, because I feel they are not leading to an easy resolution 🙂

Aron03:07:45

Again, disclaimer, I do not actually like this new development in western societies, but this doesn't mean that 1. I don't think that the emotions that drive it are completely justified 2. and that the current situation is maintainable. But probably not superficial stuff like replacing words. Disclaimer over. The most important thing here to understand and accept is that people of color have an extremely different life experience. I am not going to get in the details of it because I am sure there are people here who could explain this much better than a guy from europe, even though I have experienced similar kind of injustice myself, it's not the same. What is much harder to understand is this maoist movement (and I am using this word it in the lack of a better denominator, and because it is exactly the same behavior). The roots of this western movement are in post-modernism, which is also worth looking up because I could write about it for hours. What I believe happened was that during the cold war everyone had to choose between capitalism/communism (I am oversimplifying so this won't take too long). After the cold war it was intellectually impossible to support communism on economical grounds so the only thinkers who were in that camp but could survive were who could reinvent themselves along different lines. These new lines of thought were supplied by post-modernism. A sidenote here is that almost everyone who has learned popular science has ideas that logically are equivalent to postmodern thinking. (e.g. that all our experiences are subjective to the brain, and we could be just a brain in a jar, or that everything could be a simulation - an idea floated not so long ago by famous people). So I am not trying to blame anyone. So, after the west won the cold war, people who wanted to challenge the current system had to resort to "tools" that were available for them. They looked around and seen what previous civil right movements fought for and won. And they generalized it. The result was that instead of looking our shared experiences as an objective reality that has objective truths in it that are independent of opinion, they say that the objective truth is their experience and since the oppression is part of that experience, they are going to challenge it on every level possible, independent of its source. If you say it like that, it doesn't sound as bad. Who doesn't want to clear up unjust power structures? And personally, I don't mind updating my own vocabulary, it's not like I am attached to one word or another. The first successes were on the universities and campuses, but now those people have grown up and got employed in society everywhere. They are managers, authors and thought leaders who have learned that (for them) it's more important how they define themselves (and others) than what can be considered objective truth. (I feel that this is absurd a statement enough that I actually have to give a reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pO8qdwggIdI ) Note what she says: "not if, how". That's all there to it, if I already accept that because I am white I am racist, I have to go along with all these new changes, since opposing them on any ground would just confirm to anyone around me that I am indeed a racist. Similarly, it's not if there is a patriarchy, but how the patriarchy manifests in my life. And sure, being a male, 6 feet, not entirely unfit, I am confident when I go around that most people would have to think twice if they challenge me. But does this mean that I support the patriarchy? This new movement doesn't just say yes it exists, but also says that if I am not actively meditating on this, if I don't go out of my way to give up my position, then I actively support it. For every injustice you can identify, there has to be oppressor and oppressed and the only way to resolve the situation is for the oppressor to be continually challenged. So it really all boils down to this. Critical theoriest argue that objective reality exists only as subjective experience and this subjective experience is the only thing that exists. Once you accepted this idea then everything they do makes complete sense. Exactly like solipsism, in fact, I believe that critical theory is a kind of shared solipsism. It would be easier to discuss this if it wasn't for the fact that our society is in fact extremely polarized and unjust (fun fact: HNI have 10x more wealth than sovereign wealth funds). Furthermore, every dictator or illiberal leader also built its communication tactics on the same arguments as critical theories, so both sides of the political aisles like postmodern thought and love to employ it, that's how we got post-truth and fake news. So we can look at this as a simple word changes, but it's much much more, with several decades of evolution. I see it simply as the result of the dynamic: people change what they can. If nothing else can be changed, they change the language because language is the most malleable of all our shared reality. Alongside this there is the revolution in behavioral economics that tacitly supports a lot of the arguments, but I really can't discuss all aspect of this 🙂. So I hope I explained that the people from which these changes originate don't see the world as we see it, where language is the result of practice, rather they see practice as the result of social structures and they see these social structures as the result of - language, or more precisely communication. They literally preach (and teach) that we have to constantly critique everything that we come in contact with in our life with the assumption that because there is injustice in our life, it must be that either we are oppressed or we are the oppressors. That said, there are things that white people, especially white people in rich western countries must consider. A lot of the successes that we cherish were paid by black people's blood. And I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for POC to have to compete with the descendants of these actual oppressors and then be told that they should forget what happened in the past. One clear example that I think everyone can empathize with is written about here https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2020/06/19/fact-check-j-marion-sims-did-medical-experiments-black-female-slaves/3202541001/

tvaughan16:07:40

> I see it simply as the result of the dynamic: people change what they can. If nothing else can be changed, they change the language because language is the most malleable of all our shared reality. People resist change where they can. If changes are inevitable, they resist changes to language because its meaning is subjective and contextual. There are no right answers, so this is where people who resist change retreat to. Who cares? The motivation behind these changes seem laudable. Why stand in the way?

noisesmith16:07:13

I'd argue that it's not about "abolishing the history", but rather about showing empathy to those for whom these words carry an extra and unpleasant meaning, and that thanks to that history we want to learn from and not just abolish, we can use language that conveys the meaning without poking at the sore spots others might have

Aron16:07:25

• "people resist change where they can" can be true together with "people change what they can". So while we yearn stability, we also strive for different goals that all require some kind of "change", like improving ourselves, helping others or building things. • "there are no right answers" I find such statements extremely dissatisfying, it basically tells me that if I even attempt to say that I have an answer to a problem, I must be an oppressor because I force my will on others? • "why stand in the way" I think I made it clear that although I do not agree with the core tenets of this movement, in no way I want to stand in the way of these word changes since I can totally understand why it would be bothersome for some people. with that I think I wrote enough on this topic to shut up for a while 🙂 as a last reference I leave this here, people with better credentials than mine can explain why we will have to stand in the way of some of the actions. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHGt733yw3g

noisesmith16:07:12

I don't want to use "master" or "slave" for the same reason I'd avoid language that compares hardware access to sexual assault - the metaphor is right there for the taking, but it would be insensitive to people who have that experience to use that metaphor

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noisesmith16:07:14

and even people that don't directly experience slavery deal with long term social consequences that come from that institution, it's not something that simply disappeared after the civil war

noisesmith16:07:20

it was massively eye opening to me to date a black woman. she dealt with pathological treatment from what to me would have seemed like normal pleasant people. People who in many cases honestly didn't think they were being insensitive, because they had the social position that allowed them to not notice without consequence.

noisesmith16:07:04

I can't speak for her experience - I saw it second hand, dealt with second hand versions of the treatment at worst. But I can advocate that she wasn't just imagining the mistreatment, that this kind of treatment exists, and that if we can change the world in small ways to make the world less hostile to people with her experiences, I don't see a downside.

ChrisF22:07:50

^ Could a potential downside be that we waste our energy on something that doesn't really do anything, taking away energy we could be using to solve the actual issue therefore making it worse?

noisesmith22:07:50

everything has an opportunity cost, but I wouldn't blame sluggishness for making real change on tokenized incomplete change - tokenized incomplete change will be the first choice of bureaucracies, regardless of what form it takes

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noisesmith22:07:20

you can observe as much if you ever see an inefficiency at work and suggest a process change affecting more than one team

lilactown04:07:55

This is a really tricky topic, so I think it first requires empathizing with people who do believe this should be done. I do believe that some people could look at master/slave terminology and go: "I don't need to be reminded of this in my place of work." Like, there are so many other possible words we could use - primary / secondary, main / replica, etc.

lilactown04:07:14

I remember when I was 9, I was learning to program and my mom was worried because the language I was learning used the word "kill" to stop a process from running. I scoffed then, but now I'm like... yeah there are so many better words we could have chosen at the beginning lol.

tvaughan16:07:00

I remember the documentation guide book we had back in the early 90's had this recommendation, as well as use "press" instead of "hit" e.g. the return key

lilactown04:07:56

And there's an argument that embedding terminology in the language we use every day, does work to maintain those concepts as normal. It certainly fit within my mindset back then that killing is just something you did in video games and computers.

lilactown04:07:07

Anyway, all that to say that there is probably some form of impact that master/slave language has on the community and the people that do (or want!) to participate in it

lilactown04:07:55

However, the next question is how much of an impact it has. And I am unable to measure that. So I'm willing to take a back seat and let the people that are actually impacted by it drive.

seancorfield04:07:56

FWIW, I find the pervasive and very casual use of "master/slave" in IT to be uncomfortable. We are generally a very privileged (and mostly white) industry and we've seen some very inappropriate responses from IT people about all sorts of things. I'm nearly 60 and I've gotten very cynical about our industry over the years 😞

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lilactown04:07:49

I do feel like there is a danger in us getting excited about changing things like master/slave terminology, because it's easy, and let those in control pay lip service to people who actually want systemic change in our profession. See: GitHub announcing they're working on helping people rename their master, but silent on their contracts with gov't institutions that put kids in cages I think the wrong response is to try and stop efforts to improve our language, though. Rather, I think we just need to recognize the little improvements while continuing to hold those with institutional power in our community accountable for their actions and those they support.

seancorfield04:07:40

Aye, a lot needs doing, but even the little things are worth considering -- they just shouldn't be all we do.

seancorfield04:07:05

If this makes us all think about the words we use every day, that's a good thing.

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seancorfield04:07:40

It's why, for example, we have a Code of Conduct here -- to remind people to think about how they interact with others here as well as what language they use.

lilactown04:07:26

I really appreciate the work you do for the Clojure community 🙂 creating and enforcing the CoC being one of them!

seancorfield04:07:34

I can't claim any credit for creating it but, yeah, it is work to help ensure folks pay attention to it 🙂

sveri15:07:05

Yea, even though I disagreed few times with you in the past about when you start to remind people (of course, also me) of the CoC I start to see what good that does for this community. The clojure slack really is a nice place to hangout and have technical debates.

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seancorfield04:07:15

No one will claim a CoC is sufficient but it is a necessary thing along the way.

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Aron04:07:56

Clear rules are always necessary for good conflict resolution. Most of the time you don't expect to be conflict resolving, so it might seem like 'too much', but when it's needed and it's not there it can hurt the situation badly.

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seancorfield04:07:58

I wish we didn't need "rules" to encourage people to just be nice and respect their fellow humans but... 😐

Aron04:07:23

I don't think rules encourage people to be nice. (similarly how harsh penal code doesn't actually decrease crimes). I've been in communities where the rules were such that I was in constant fear of breaking them, and I've been in communities where there were no rules. It's true that the latter attracts different people and it's also true that people who like rules would find the latter communities "rude". But that's true the other way around too. The experience of niceness was not dependent on the rules but on the cohesion of the group. With high cohesion even rule-less communities were fun and safe, and no amount of rules could make up for some differences between people. I can only suggest this talk that goes into the details of this topic, sorry if this is not the first time 🙂 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAWzj6jucL4

seancorfield04:07:54

I only meant insofar as having a CoC says "think about your behavior here" -- as you say, communities with rules and communities without rules attract different people. In the early days of this Slack, several vocal people objected to the CoC but when they saw the admin team were solid behind it, they mostly moved on and things became calmer and quieter here. It's rare that we need to discuss the CoC with anyone these days.

Aron05:07:54

It would be interesting to know how many people think of the CoC, or how many left because of it. I would guess that not many - but I fully accept that you have a much better view of this picture. That said, I am not sure I have seen a more exclusive, more cohesive programming language community than clojure. Everywhere else I see more women, more people of color, and most importantly more people with poor backgrounds. People I see here are almost always fit 2 of the three categories: from a rich country, white, male. This is my personal and subjective experience and in no way I mean it as a judgment, I expect I could be wrong in more than one way.

seancorfield05:07:00

Yeah, that's why I helped found ClojureBridge to see if we could get more women into Clojure, and I am always pleased to see conferences trying to create more diverse line ups of speakers. Clojure has historically been very "white male" and I've never been very happy about that.

Aron05:07:21

I have this theoretical bet with myself about this. I believe that with cljs being fully compatible with javascript ecosystem (being able to easily require and publish npm modules) and typescript being more and more problematic, lots of javascripters will start using clojurescript in the next couple of year 🙂 It will be interesting how this will change the community, if it happens at all.

seancorfield05:07:41

I hope you're right -- that JS devs will join the community -- and I hope it doesn't change the community in any detrimental way. I hadn't heard of much dissatisfaction with TS (but then I don't do any frontend stuff -- but I haven't seen negativity in the press).

Aron05:07:28

I watched a talk from its creator and he said that typescript is all about what happens during development time. So when I say more and more problematic, I am guessing that this will not change and people will realize that although it's extremely convenient for writing code, the same tools would be nice to use during runtime. Another problem they have is that they try to be a superset, but every time a new feature is added to js, there is some period when these new features are not yet available. I have contacts who I trust in these matters and who claim that it's already a different language because there is javascript code that when executed after compiled with typescript compiler will have different results than just running it in a js engine. In this context the fact that clojurescript uses google closure compiler is an important added value.

seancorfield05:07:24

Interesting (re: different code). Yes, I can see that being a concern. But you could argue that cljs compiles to JS that you have no control over either...

Aron05:07:29

agreed, but one of them needs to be updated constantly so that the original promise is kept, the other (closure) less often. 🙂 But I have to admit that I feel my attitude here is somewhat due to the fact that I don't like classical oop and I am now committed to cljs. I kinda have to justify my decision to pick clojurescript over typescript 🙂

Aron05:07:45

One thing is sure, I am happy if typescript continues to be popular, even if I am not going to use it. It's good to know that the option is there.

seancorfield05:07:14

Given the explosion of languages on the JVM, I've always been a bit surprised that compile-to-JS languages seem to have been much more of a niche.

seancorfield05:07:20

I mean, I know Scala and Kotlin have pretty good compile-to-JS stories but nothing in the compile-to-JS world seems to have gained much market share, whereas many languages on the JVM have established healthy (if small) market share.

seancorfield05:07:12

(and there's a Haskell-to-JS compiler, and PureScript, and CoffeeScript, and... but they all seem much more niche than their JVM equivalents... or am I just off the mark here?)

gibb07:07:35

Contracts and law are a great way to get people to be nice to each other. Someone said instead of signing an agreement we should sign a "disagreement", which details the scenarios in which our collaboration breaks down and how we should resolve it. If seen in that light then I think a Code of Conduct, seen as an implicit contract, makes perfect sense.

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Aron09:07:09

coffeescript had a moment 🙂 but yes, compile-to-javascript languages were a niche, although probably any major language has a compiler either directly to javascript (e.g. scala.js) or through LLVM (empscripten) There are a number of language that target specifically javascript (although almost never exclusively), like Dart, Haxe, Elm, Reason, Idris etc.

Mno08:07:19

I'm afraid of any political talk in a community which is not centered around political discourse. It tends to be contagious and spread in an unsustainable manner, until the original purpose is diluted and fuzzy. Hopefully it will remain in off-topic.

Aron09:07:44

Could you elaborate please? What do you mean by talk that is "centered" around X? How does talk that is centered on political discourse different from talk that is not centered on political discourse? Or just in general, how can "talk" be "centered" but not around some kind of "discourse"? I am quoting because obviously 'talk' in this context doesn't mean speeches and monologues of any kind but open ended dialogues at the minimum.

seancorfield15:07:56

@UGFL22X0Q For what it's worth, overall we try to discourage political talk here since this is a Clojure community and there are other forums intended for politics. A couple of exceptions over the years have been a #brexit channel (because it affects European commerce and so a lot of Clojure developers are affected) and #covid-19 (because, well, the virus has impacted all of us and discussions around that can also get political). Both channels were very active at first but both have quietened down.

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lunik113:07:37

the best master/`slave` alternative I've heard is dom/`sub`

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p-himik13:07:30

"What do you mean 'DOM' means 'Document Object Model'?"

noisesmith17:07:08

oh man we missed the chance to call the ledgering microservice the findom

noisesmith17:07:31

(it's in charge of the official account balances and transaction history)

jsn14:07:32

https://icfpcontest2020.github.io/#/ ICFP Programming Contest 2020 starts in three days, teasers are out

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sveri15:07:16

I have been thinking a lot about wordings in technology or life in general. A lot of these debates have happened in the last decade and honestly, I found them to be a waste of time mostly. Not only that, I have a pretty radical view about freedom of opinion. While consider myself a very socialist person and a leftist (plesae note, I don't live in the US so for me leftist means something different than the US equivalent of leftist), I also think it is important for everyone to be able to express his opinion, even if they totally differ my own ones. A lot of friends of mine disagreed with me on that, especially on the part that I think it's important to listen to anyone, including right extremists, because for me, listening means being able to understand and to start having a discussion with each other. Consequently I wanted to have the right to use the master / slave terminology if I wanted to, not that I want to, but I want to have the right to do so. So, excluding words from being used feels like opression to me. Anyway, I read a nice blog post about that topic a few weeks ago and the author asked himself what does it hurt to change the terminology and that somehow opened my eyes. It does not hurt at all, the opposite is true, for some this is important and it improves their well being and meaning of life. So why would I be an asshole and insist on my right to call something master / slave? There really is no reason for me except being an asshole about it, instead of listening, what I always claim to do. I still think it's a hard topic, because you can only truly understand what you experienced and a lot of people in the western tech world just did not experience what being PoC means, so how can we claim to understand when we cannot.

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Ruy Valle16:07:41

Also I would say there is an important difference between being allowed to use terms and their being the default. In my opinion, it says something about the person who wrote kill that they called it that way rather than sig (signal), int (interrupt), stop or something along those lines. Another example: at my previous job I called our main branch main .

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orestis06:07:59

I think that the “what does it hurt” argument is the best one I’ve read so far. Esp. since as non-native English speaker I just don’t see the link… and in Europe I don’t think we’ve seen the extremes of US society.

orestis06:07:25

I still feel hesitant to introduce the new terms (master/main, whitelist/blacklist) just based on online noise though. But perhaps as team lead it’s my responsibility?

sveri07:07:55

I thought about the same and actually our business already started investigating and every team hast to check if it's affected and how and give a rough estimate what it would take to remove offensive wording. For now we only have a few examples about what offensive wording is (blacklist / whitelist, master / branch), but it's really not exhaustive. That said, we have a product where one of our main concepts is something called "MasterRuleSet", yea, changing that not only most probably breaks 10 years of existing customer data, but also might take multiple months. So I assume that's not gonna happen, I would still be happy if we would use different wording for new concepts.