- The first time it occurred to me that "master" in this context could offend anyone was when GitHub changed the name (and broke my workflow).
- My immediate reaction was, "this change is by white people for white people," where "white" means anyone who isn't black.
- My next reaction was, "they may be changing the name for the wrong reasons, but the change is brilliant."
What's powerful about this name change is that it pushes us to alter a habit, in my case one embedded deeply in my fingers, something that I do every day without realizing that I'm doing it. Thus it is a useful reminder of the implicit bias that contributes to the lack of diversity in tech. Never mind that the old name was harmless, the change brings repeated awareness to an important topic, and it reaches a the developer community in a targeted way.
So, next time you are annoyed that you have to fix a script or you accidentally type master when you needed to type main, please just take a deep breath, change the name, and remember to reflect upon whether you have are subconscious habits or biases that work against diversity in tech.
>If the goal is to change minds and open hearts then where appropriate, we should endeavor to communicate in ways that will be well received by those who need to hear the message. Stuff like this is just preaching to the choir and alienating the rest.
> Also not actually changing anything that matters in the lives of black people.
I couldn't have put this better myself. There are two issues
- What people want is justice, including economic justice, and progress. They want to stop being discriminated by gerrymandering politicians and trigger-happy cops. They want an economy that serves everyone and not just those on the very top, and that does not disproportionally discriminate those on the bottom and especially minority communities with a history of disadvantage. In this sense, changing master to main is nothing but a feel-good measure for privileged white people to feel good about themselves without actually having to put in any effort into tackling hard problems like improving democracy or improving the economic system.
- Besides this, it's actually a stupid move in a political, pragmatic sense. Like you're saying, it alienates precisely those you need to bring to your side ("it's pc gone mad!") and it's only going to be well received by those already pre-disposed to agree with you. It's actually my main criticism of the Left nowadays: we are shit at politics! You have to be pragmatic and somewhat calculating to actually get shit done. Many activists on the left today rather childishly think that simply being right is enough, as if you didn't have to be smart, convincing, use rhetoric, etc.
For a hundred years after the Civil War, and then a solid 50 more after the Civil Rights movement, we had "white people doing nothing" plus "some still-racist white people actively trying to roll things back." Doing things, and keeping the issue in the forefront, even if the things sometime look silly to some people, is going to make us more progress than going back to doing nothing because some people think only the perfect things are worth doing.
(People getting affronted, offended, and alienated by actions that they think are "silly" is another problem entirely... You don't think it'll make a big difference? That's nice. Why are you making a big deal out of it, then? There's a virtue signalling of "look at how more evolved I am to not be fooled by your silly change, and still spot that the world still sucks after it!!")
"wages have been stagnant for the past 50 years despite gains in productivity"
"prices of tvs and smartphones falling, prices of housing and healthcare skyrocketing"
"statistical studies show voter preferences have near-zero correlation with effected legislation, while preferences of the wealthier 0.5% are very strongly correlated"
In short: you're alienating people that you could bring to your side, you're wasting time and effort in inconsequential changes, you're giving fuel to those who use these trivialities to distract the populace from the real issues. I see no upside here.
And that's pretty much what the OP article is complaining about, people with savior complexes doing performative things that don't really fix the problem on a larger scale.
I do not really like using Indian to refer to Native Americans as I work with a lot of people from India. This is a personal preference, I don't correct people who say Indian to refer to Native Americans and I will often use it in a conversation where its already being used to avoid confusion or bad vibes.
An of course, there is the confusion you noted that can happen between the super-continent America and the country commonly called America.
As a matter of actual geological fact, North America and South America are separate continents (they have their own cratonic cores). Geographically they are considered distinct in the USA also. Central America is a cultural or political region refering to the isthmus -- it is not a continent in any sense.
Nationals of the USA are called "Americans" by USA nationals, and by people from other parts of the world, including Japan, Russia, etc (in their own phonologies). Canadians refer to USA nationals as Americans, and do not call themselves Americans.
Europeans frequently object to USA nationals calling themselves Americans, claiming that the word should refer people's of both North America and South America. People from South American nations seem to feel the same. Mexicans seem to me much more likely to refer to a USA national as "Americano" than they are "Estadounidense."
USA nationals will sometimes describe people from North and South American nations as be from "the Americas."
Many Europeans object to calling themselves Europeans.
Ex: From my travels and conversations - the English don't refer to themselves as Europeans. I asked them what continent they lived on. Doesn't matter.
It's hard to recall what I was taught about Central America, but I believe it was that it's sort of a region shared between both and only a colloquially separate entity.
(Unfortunately though, I think that ignorance is fairly common for a lot of aspects of life for people raised in the US.)
Side note: I was going to say "aspects of life for Americans", but realized Americans means more than just those in the US. So I propose a new term for "people from the US". USers. :)
That's probably a valid perspective, but I see a lot of well-meaning comments like this, and this thread now has more comments on it, than github has employees. Perhaps the time "wasted" on this at github isn't as high as the time wasted discussing it.
As a software engineer, my workflow is forced to change all the time. As a software engineer, I don't complain. I've been praised for not complaining. I will work on Visual Basic code if you want me to.
Similarly, I'll change how I speak and work if it makes someone more comfortable, no problem.
I'm also desperate for there to be more conversations about unionizing, corporate lobbying, the outsized influence of the 1%.
Maybe if we both just shut up about this topic and get on with our other work, the world will be a better place?
But does it? Is there a clamour of people demanding immediate change due to the grievous usage of... a technical word?
"People get pissed off even by small changes" is a MUCH bigger impediment towards real progress than "people are making small changes that won't fix the whole world" is.
I don't believe most of the people who say they're only problem is that the change is "too small." I think that's just an excuse of convenience to resist any change or challenge to the status quo. If your problem is that the change isn't big enough, the solution is to push for bigger ones yourself! But that's not usually what we see those people doing...
It's entirely possible to hire more engineers of color and pay them fairly, but it turns out that pitting workers against each other by introducing a handful of inconsequential process and standards changes is much cheaper and hinders the solidarity that enables coordinated advocacy for better working conditions.
People who are after a quick, delusional dopamine hit from changing harmless terminology will just go after sillier and sillier stuff instead.
It's not "too small", it's irrelevant and selfish.
I can't believe anyone really believes that story
We all need to get over ourselves
Achieves nothing; breaks build scripts; imposed by faceless outsiders who have no interaction with the project.
* First, as others have said, it builds resentment in those that see it as not worthwhile compared to other things and who are negatively impacted like how you describe.
* Second, which I haven't really seen people bring up, by succeeding at a visible but inconsequential change, the activists who brought this about are less likely to bother with something that actually matters.
Not even close. Everyone I've talked to about it makes some mention about the left having lost its mind, myself included.
I'm a very liberal person, and have actively fought prejudice, especially the type of unconscious bias that is so difficult to stomp out, my entire professional career. I'm especially keen on the dynamics of power in conversation, it's crazy how often people from a less privilege group get interrupted, and people rarely realize the dynamic as its occurring.
But all of the PC policing and the with-us-or-against-us rhetoric has really soured me on giving a shit about any of this. While I'm privileged by being white, I was born to a lower-middle class family in a rural area and don't feel particularly privileged. I went to a backwards high school where I was bullied for being a nerd, with curriculum from 60's( graduated in ~2010 and we didn't have a single CS class, and highest achievable GPA was 4.2, while people in neighboring districts could go to the GATE high school and graduated with a 5.0). I had undiagnosed/treated mental health problems which were significantly exacerbated by my family's inability to afford healthcare (we had insurance, but couldn't afford to actually see the doctor). Despite this we were too wealthy to qualify for any student aid and I was unable to win any substantial scholarships. I was mature enough at 20 to know I wasn't doing well enough nor did I have adequate direction in school to take tens of thousands in what I understood at the time to be an undischargeable debt on the gamble that it would pay off. I remember looking for help about how to do better at the community college I was attending and basically determined that I, as a straight white atheist, didn't really have allies as when I asked people where they got e.g. counseling, it was always through a channel i didn't have access to, whether it was a church group, a family friend or some support group for people who weren't me. My parents are both 40 years my senior and were so far out of the loop that they didn't even know that GPAs went higher than 4. I also didn't know that if I saw a psychiatrist I could turn everything around, and had no access to one, so I dropped out.
>Why are you making a big deal out of it, then?
Because I, personally, find all this woke shit about race and sex from bougie whites offensive, classist, and racist. I completely support it when it is coming from the (dis)affected community in question, but when there is a dogpile of privileged people virtue signaling in a way that completely negates the actual issues (like people not having equitable access to justice, healthcare, education and housing) I find affront. I would argue most of the problems that minority communities face are also shared by poor white communities, the only difference is that those communities have virtually no actual voice in modern discourse and have privileged whites talking on their behalf instead. Admittedly a common problem generally, but I don't want people with power, and make no mistake bougie tech workers have a lot more power than the poor do, to feel they've "done something" and pat themselves on the back until they actually make poor people's lives better, changing master/slave to main/source, or whatever the fuck language change you choose is literally doing nothing to make things better for anyone but github/micorsoft. It's paying lip service, full stop.
I also find some of talk about the historic enslavement of Blacks in the US kinda weird. I can track my lineage back thru 100s of years of serfdom, my ancestors literally fleeing Europe to America during Reconstruction in 19th century to escape brutal peonage and serfdom.. and nobody cares. I'm of the "priviledged class" because people who I have no relation to but shared my skin color were of the ruling class 250 years ago when we didn't respect human rights. Sounds racist as hell to me, all things considered. I just don't get it.
But responding to one of your points, and I don't think this is taught very well in schools, the specific discrimination that Black people faced went on for a long time after the end of slavery. For example, here in what is now considered progressive Oakland, CA, Black people were kept out of many jobs through the 1940s and 50s, including as streetcar drivers. Also, they were excluded from government subsidized mortgages through the 60s, which impeded their ability to build wealth and live in good conditions. These examples of explicit racial discrimination happened well within living memory.
Even apart from your examples, (you missed Japanese interment camps/stolen wealth, probably the worst thing the US did domestically in the 20th century) racial profiling is still extremely real in this country. Which is on everyone radar, but it's really put into focus the times I've traveled cross country and consistently see POC on the side of the interstate.
>These examples of explicit racial discrimination happened well within living memory.
I mean, the way I see it, explicit financial discrimination is still happening today. Its just called affirmative action.
Nope. Redlining, the entire history of USDA subsidies in the 20th century, the GI bill etc are far more economically impacting than any meager adjustments to the dominance of white people in business and government. White people need to STFU about affirmative action as it has not meaningfully changed the shape of leadership in our workforce.
Alienates at best, emboldening the racists at worst. Clearly even the author was pissed by this change, not just because it's an empty gesture but also a change to workflow. I'm imagining some f̶a̶s̶h̶y̶ ̶e̶d̶g̶e̶l̶o̶r̶d̶ "Western Chauvinist" programmer throwing a fit every time they accidentally git checkout master, racism intensifies.
a good point in the making until this line, where you aligned yourself with a shallow identity. fuck left and right. stop trying to find a team to mindlessly root for. yes, it's hard, and yes, it means more mindshare devoted to evaluating what you think rather than who you want others to think you are in subservience to ideological hegemony. politics is shit because not enough of us do this, but rather settle on a tribe and leave our brains behind in the process.
the left isn't right, it's a coalition for power, which is for delivering advantage to some people at the exclusion of others. power doesn't value or uphold right and wrong, so you're premise is profoundly misguided here.
So if we can put 50% of these people in a group called "Left" and 50% of these people in a group called "Right", and then prevent direct democracy with something such as elected representatives, then neither the Left nor the Right ever has to vote on the issue, because instead they are fighting over the most important thing, e.g. abortion. When the Left are in power, they are focused on the things that the Right is trying to take away, and vice versa. There is an eternal struggle. As a result, the things that a majority agrees on never get voted on, and even if they did, whoever is not in power would vote against them.
This is not hypothetical. There are several major issues that have the support of the majority (sometimes as much as 80%) of the population, and yet they are never voted on.
Left and Right is a trap.
"Now that … workers are superfluous, what do you do with them? First of all, you have to make sure they don’t notice that society is unfair and try to change that, and the best way to distract them is to get them to hate and fear one another."
The "us vs them"ing that's been happening here for the past several decades is more than concerning, it's shocking. The number of times per year that a Congressperson will side with the opposite party during a vote has been shrinking like a cannonball for decades, and it's so limited now it almost doesn't exist. In the 60s, this wasn't the case; voting with the opposite side on certain things was fairly common. There is no way that is not directed and intentional.
And the issues we are getting wrapped up in emotionally are either 1) focused on fear or 2) 'religious' issues for which we will almost never have common agreement, but which are not of actual vital importance at a national level.
There is an optimum in the middle. Governments lasting for a day like several European countries have had in the past is also harmful and alienating. But if there is nothing forcing people to compromise and collaborate, what you describe is the expected outcome: frequent swings from one side to the other, each time with a slim majority, and nothing good happening over the long term.
The problem is not left and right. The problem is that you cannot represent a full spectrum of ideologies with a binary choice.
maybe there just isn't really much democracy in the united states.
The support also transcended party lines, with 70 percent of Democrats, 68 percent of independent or third-party voters and 57 percent of Republican voters expressing approval for the bill.”
Except all the left voted for it and all the right voted against it. You confuse and underestimate the impact of a minority party’s ability to maintain control via gerrymandering, wealthy election finding, voter suppression and an undemocratic Senate.
Show us the litany major issues 80% of citizens support that the left kneecaps.
Both sides do it is a trap.
GP's point is also working as designed. The Founders envisioned a country with a minimum of lawmaking. The system was intended to only respond to a fairly unambiguous signal, and warned of the dangers of a Government that squandered it's credibility on laws it couldn't enforce, or frequent flip-floppery. It's just sad no one seems to have listened.
Can you provide examples?
Leftism is, generally speaking, those who want to move the needle especially rapidly towards "power to the people". Those on the right generally want to keep power with the established power base.
This can be contrasted with liberalism, which is the belief in a core platform of liberty, consent of the governed, and equality before the law. Though liberalism is often conflated with leftism, it's not, and neither is it the opposite of conservatism.
Many Americans today have forgotten what these terms mean, but that doesn't mean they're meaningless. They still are relevant, people just aren't really understanding the political philosophy.
This is the opposite of the positions taken by those described as "left" and "right" in the US. Republicans are individualist, "power to the people", "states' rights", etc, but would never be described as "left", while it's the Democrats that tend towards centralizing power in the federal government.
> Many Americans today have forgotten what these terms mean, but that doesn't mean they're meaningless.
They are certainly approaching that point if people don't mean remotely the same thing when using them.
The right-wing perspective often means the removal of state power in favor of private (ie, "personal") source of power (often in the form of commercial entities).
I wouldn't describe these aspects of Republican messaging as their core platform. They're just conservative standards, all conservatives tend to imagine themselves this way. Rugged individualists, callbacks to tradition, even "states rights", aren't particularly leftist in that they aren't calling for moving power anywhere, but rather keeping it where it is. You vote for Republicans if you like their messaging, it just so happens that how Republicans want to achieve these goals means the old white people are empowered to do things the old white way.
If you pierce through the dreck of the messaging, the platform's the same as any other conservative ideology. Law and order, another pillar of conservative rationale, is the name of an actual political party in Poland, guess what, they're actually the majority party.
There's just not that much special about American politics when you get right down to it. What's dangerous about it is that America has more money than the average European country, but our society is far less well-educated on humanities subjects. If you think that makes us prone to misinformation and propaganda, well, it does.
in any case, the concepts can be relevant and meaningful and still not be useful as identity markers in any meaningful and relevant way. identification principally with a single school of thought is simply a mistake of rationality, and how we get unthinking tribalist extremism. it happens with any -ism: libertarianism, socialism, nihilism, capitalism, etc. the world works as a non-linear composition of all of these ideas and much more. not a single one can be considered "correct" in any meaningful sense.
Liberalism didn't change because people are using the term incorrectly and don't understand how to use it properly. Like a market, eventually the political landscape returns to rationality. At the end of the day, Trump is a classic fascist, and his supporters are supporting fascism.
They don't get to rewrite the meanings of the words because they don't like the connotations. Many through history have used his playbook, and it all follows the same general arc.
Actually it has changed. Classical Liberalism is primarily an economic belief system that advocates small, non-interventionist government. It evolved into Right-libertarianism in the 20th and 21st century.
"In the late 19th century, classical liberalism developed into neo-classical liberalism, which argued for government to be as small as possible to allow the exercise of individual freedom. In its most extreme form, neo-classical liberalism advocated social Darwinism. Right-libertarianism is a modern form of neo-classical liberalism."
This odd positioning is most visible in Australia, where the conservative party is called "The Liberal party" after the mid-20th century view on this.
This is a long way from any modern understanding of Liberalism particularly within the US:
"Social liberalism, also known as left liberalism in Germany, modern liberalism in the United States and new liberalism in the United Kingdom, is a political philosophy and variety of liberalism that endorses a regulated market economy and the expansion of civil and political rights....
In the United States, the term social liberalism may sometimes refer to progressive stances on sociocultural issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage as opposed to social conservatism."
All classical liberals are liberals, but not all liberals are classic liberals. Ditto for social liberals. When I defined liberalism, I outlined a core platform. There are many many many movements within liberalism that all share the same core platform. They have to.
You cannot have classical liberalism in a country that's not committed to the core liberal platform. A free market just doesn't work in a world where there's no equality of the law, no liberty, and no consent of the governed. If even one of these is missing, you really can't have classic liberalism either. A regime will invariably put their fingers on the scales of commerce.
Ditto for every single other political philosophy under the liberal banner. All of these things rest upon a belief in the population of those three bedrock principles.
This goes against any common, modern understanding of the plain unadorned term "liberal". For example, former (Republican) house speaker Paul Ryan has called himself a "classical liberal"
I'd also note:
Core beliefs of classical liberals did not necessarily include democracy nor government by a majority vote by citizens
Allow me to restate. Liberalism involves a core belief in consent of the governed, liberty, and equality under the law. Classical liberalism is all of these things. They just believe certain aspects are more important than others.
Some American conservative might decide economic freedom (liberty) is the most important aspect of liberalism. That's fine, that's all well and good, under the banner of liberalism. If you suddenly took away this conservative's consent of the governed, or made someone unequal according to the law, they would object, assuming they're a true liberal, which they are, because these values are steeped into just about every American. Solve problems through the political process, not by subverting it. Very, very core America.
What's dangerous about Trump is he's seducing people away from liberalism and towards royalism. Royals are above the law and get to impose governance on the people regardless of their consent. Not even the British agree that the royal family can govern without the consent of the populace, they had many many civil battles eventually deciding the role of the monarchy. Trumpists imagine these things are true even though they're not. They want a monarchy which is above the rule of law. They decide what is true and nobody can use legal action to decide otherwise.
Liberalism is a core Anglo doctrine, every single citizen of Anglo countries is a liberal, and many Europeans as well. They may campaign on other platforms, but if the core liberal pillars of society are threatened, Americans will revert back to those pillars.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but conservatives were fine with Trump's shenanigans, up to a point. That point is essentially, where Trump started threatening core liberal institutions. Once that started happening, the establishment started backing away. Only once Trump waved his hands again after the insurrection, saying it was all for fun, all a show, "be peaceful", did they start to line up again. Trump understood that he had to thread a needle between his base and core America. He failed, because Americans aren't going to go along with a clear subversion of democracy. He thought they could be convinced to and was wrong. Republicans wanted, and still want, his political vitality, but not his tactics.
Conservatives went along with him until he really threatened to make free and fair elections a thing of the past. I'm not saying that the American right is good people, I'm saying that the core beliefs of liberalism are inherent in all of us. There has long long been a fascination with royalism, like every single other democratic nation, but when push comes to shove, those who have tasted Anglo popular sovereignty will choose to continue popular sovereignty. Royalists will always be the minority.
> "At the end of the day, Trump is a classic fascist, and his supporters are supporting fascism."
impulsive statements like this reveal the limitations of that kind of rigid thinking. trump isn't a fascist, he's a self-centrist. he's one of the simplest human beings to understand because of this. politicized projections such as yours are overfitted at best, and completely unfitted in most cases, as in this case.
Those are the very same thing. A fascist does not care about anything other than personal power. All philosophies and ideology are superfluous. Fascists run on the very basic political premise of "you like me, elect me and let me run things because you like me and you'll like what I want to do." That's the core message, anything else is pointless to understanding. That's what fascism is. I'm not misunderstanding Trumpism, I'm giving it the same name everybody else who understands political history and theory gives it.
Everything people like about Trump, are the same things that cause people to put fascists in power. Have a look at this explainer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1M6CXhUS-x8
Fascism isn't some long slow slide down to Nazi Germany that Americans seem to think of when they consider the term. The Nazis are the most visible and publicly know version of fascism, but countless others throughout history, in Europe, Latin America, Africa, have managed to subvert the mechanisms of their republics using the tactics of populism to put themselves in power, unaccountable to any sort of checks.
This isn't a widely accepted definition of fascism. There are plenty of left-wing dictators who fit this definition and weren't fascists.
How is liberalism not the opposite of conservatism? Conservatives wish to maintain the status quo, true? Liberals wish to change it....
Liberalism has had a horrendous crash lately, many internal contradictions and fallacies have become clear, but the I still adhere to those principals.
The only two terms that are really opposites here are 'left' and 'right', because they literally mean which side of the aisle you're sitting on. It shouldn't surprise anyone that the extremes of both sides are going to line up around who belongs in power, the elites, or in publicly accountable institutions.
This spectrum is limited and one-dimensional, but it still is meaningful. The people who claim it isn’t are usually con men after your vote. “The third way” always turned out to be a scam.
Politics isn’t about power except secondarily, it’s about determining ones way of life. I don’t think anyone would care if they were ruled by a dictator, as long as that dictator didn’t interfere with how they live their life.
This is important because it seems like you walk away with the idea that conservatives are always about concentrating power and progressives are all about diffusing it. That’s just incorrect. Both have different ways they want to live their life and their policies are a reflection of attempts to change the environment around them to fulfill that vision. If progressive policy didn’t affect conservatives way of life, conservatives wouldn’t care about progressives. The reverse is true.
This framework fits every instance in history and everywhere on Earth for why politics happen: because people want to live their envisioned life.
so has "slavery" but that doesn't make it right.
'left' (and 'right') is a term to subvert thinking in ways that advantage the already powerful, and short-circuit the formation of coalitions that can bring about real prosperity and equity to more people.
further, as argued elsewhere, there is no singular correct ("accepted") definition of "left" that isn't a political insistence rather than objective and unyielding fact.
if you believe in "power to the people" or "equal rights" then state that explicitly. don't hide under the highly amorphous tent of "left", which invariably can be contrived into any extant principles that suits the propounder in the moment. spell out what you mean, not your professed identity and (wrongly) assume everyone shares a singular definition of that identity.
In their present condition men are like bees which have just swarmed and are hanging down a limb in a cluster. The position of the bees on the limb is temporary, and must inevitably be changed. They must rise and find a new home for themselves. Every one of the bees knows that and wishes to change its position and that of the others, but not one is able to do so before the others are going to do so. They cannot rise all at once, because one hangs down from the other, keeping it from separating itself from the swarm, and so all continue to hang. It would seem that the bees could not get out of this state, just as it seems to worldly men who are entangled in the snare of the social world-conception. But there would be no way out for the bees, if each of the bees were not separately a living being, endowed with wings. So there would also be no way out for men, if each of them were not a separate living being, endowed with the ability of acquiring the Christian concept of life.
If every bee which can fly did not fly, the rest, too, would not move, and the swarm would never change its position. And as one bee need but open its wings, rise up, and fly away, and after it a second, third, tenth, hundredth, in order that the immovable cluster may become a freely flying swarm of bees, so one man need but understand life as Christianity teaches him to understand it, and begin to live accordingly, and a second, third, hundredth, to do so after him, in order that the magic circle of the social life, from which there seemed to be no way out, be destroyed.
But people think that the liberation of all men in this manner is too slow, and that it is necessary to find and use another such a means, so as to free all at once; something like what the bees would do, if, wishing to rise and fly away, they should find that it was too long for them to wait for the whole swarm to rise one after another, and should try to find a way where every individual bee would not have to unfold its wings and fly away, but the whole swarm could fly at once wherever it wanted. But that is impossible: so long as the first, second, third, hundredth bee does not unfold its wings and fly, the swarm, too, will not fly away or find the new life. So long as every individual man does not make the Christian life-conception his own, and does not live in accordance with it, the contradiction of the human life will not be solved and the new form of life will not be established.
My note: Tolstoy's Christian concept of life is quite different from what most people think of Christianity. He places emphasis on Jesus' teaching of non-resistance to evil by force and was against organized religion.
At least that's the narrative. People like to rally around a single person pushing a single idea, it's a powerful image of a heroic figure who had nothing but a vision.
Almost always, these "single" people are individuals with considerable clout and influence before they become figureheads. They usually rely on armies of subordinates and lots of other resources to do the actual work.
Issues up for discussion require rational thinking, discovery of facts, forming a "until new info arises" judgement and then you go with that for now.
Left? Right? These are for hands, car indicators, molecule orientation and other two faceted scenarios.
Complex social topics - and they are always complex - two orientations are not nearly enough to consider the full range of possibilities.
Edit: bit more concise.
They ended up producing a "manifesto of inclusive software" where they listed every word they considered offensive and what it should be replaced with and made a very public announcement regarding the change.
The only response to their email was my (black) colleague asking if the branch renaming could be postponed to after a release because he didn't know what it could break in the build and release automation in case "master" is hard-coded somewhere.
This apparently started a lengthy thread between him and the 5 PMs where they explained to him that the reason he wasn't supportive of the change was because of the "systemic and cultural racism" he apparently internalized.
Or maybe not. If accusing people of internalizing systemic racism didn't work, nobody would do it. We have a system where accusing a person of racism is an instant win and cannot be argued with, and as long as it is an instant win, it's going to be used, even against actual black people.
Shouldn't the black engineer's white colleagues "do their own work" instead of forcing him to do it for them?
He stopped responding to the thread. Moved the ticket to "Backlog" and didn't assign anyone to it.
If you feel that the master branch is a symptom of systemic and cultural racism then sure, feel free to make your case. I am interested in what you have to say and will do my best to consider what you have to say as best as I can.
But once people start making these kind of arguments it's clear to me I'm dealing with someone in simplex transmit-only mode and not receiving anything I have to say.
I really hate these kind of arguments. It's just gaslighting and handwaving away of whatever people are saying. "Your argument is invalid because you are subconsciously racist". Right, what makes you such an expert on my subconscious, hm? This is where I lose interest in talking to people.
I'm about as liberal as they come, but in the last few years I've mostly lost interest in social justice cause not because I think the cause is bad, because there are too many people involved that are just thoroughly unpleasant to deal with. It's high time the community ejects some of its more toxic elements, which will benefit everyone, but thus far they're mostly protected, defended, and even celebrated because "they're on our team". But that's not how it works. Assholes are assholes, no matter which team they're on.
She called me a racist.
I have a totally opposite experience, I'm white trailer trash that managed to get a math PhD from a fairly high ranking school. People just assume I grew up upper middle class.
I am not from the "inner city", and this conversation was pretty dumb. Most of them are.
Thank God the white people were there to tell the black man how to think and feel about himself. After all they're incapable of self care and rational thought... /s
No, they were racists all along. They merely over-played their hands and revealed it. But actually they reveal it in other ways if you care to look: the hair and the pronouns in bio are giveaway clues. They "colonised" our industry and now it's time they got decolonised themselves.
As near as I can tell, their need to explain my condition is triggered by independent thinking on my part.
It's where they change how they treat someone based on the color of their skin while alleging they're an ally.
They think they need to save or help them because they think they're incapable of doing things like getting ID at the DMV, voting or using the internet. They're the ones that use terms like African American and have never had real talk with some black friends, if they have any at all.
They say they're for equality but they don't treat other races or ethnicities as equals. Maybe it just makes themselves feel good, maybe they have a lot of guilt, maybe they feel like they're part of the solution.
And certainly, some people could use more help than others, but it's dangerous, unhealthy and unfair to start with the assumption that someone is incapable of something or treat them like a victim to feed their own savior complex or agenda.
People who are physically handicapped don't even want people coddling their life. Why do some people assume they need and want their help with everything?
White saviour complex, is what it is. They soon turn nasty if they don’t think you’re grateful or deferential enough, same as male feminists do with women. But like I say you can easily spot them.
(Non-white myself btw)
As another black SWE - I have to ask which hearts are we trying to open? Some are far too gone and it would be a waste of time to try to convince them to let go of their bigotry. The very same will feign engagement and argue in bad faith while being energy vampires. Why should I supplicate racists before I have my dignity as a human? Fuck "hearts and minds" - I have no way of definitively knowing those - I'll take changed behavior instead, that's all I truly care about. If I ever have kids, I can't have them live like this.
> we should endeavor to communicate in ways that will be well received by those who need to hear the message
I agree, but you need to consciously consider who these people are - if it's everyone, then the battle is already lost.
Any that can be opened. The ones that are "too far gone" are moot by definition, so we should keep in mind those who might see things differently if we communicate in a way that reaches them rather than puts up roadblocks.
> The very same will feign engagement and argue in bad faith while being energy vampires
Yes, there are many of these people, but my argument is that actions like this empower bad faith actors.
> Why should I supplicate racists before I have my dignity as a human?
We fundamentally disagree that use of the word "master" in a technical context is racist or a denial of human dignity. Using the word "main" instead of "master" doesn't improve economic, social, or political outcomes for black people, it doesn't do anything except create fodder for the bad faith actors.
> Fuck "hearts and minds"
I think this approach hurts the cause. I don't see how our children grow up in a better world if we abandon all hope of reasoning with our fellow citizens. However, as my comment stated, my advice only make sense if the goal is to change hearts and minds, if you don't care about that then my reasoning does not apply.
> but you need to consciously consider who these people are
As you already pointed out, we can't know who they are, thus I think it is prudent to craft broad messaging in a manner that is suitable for those who can be convinced, not those who are already convinced, or those who cannot ever be convinced. I also want to highlight that my comment includes the caveat "where appropriate", that is to say, we should be strident in the face of discrimination and bigotry, but I don't agree that the status quo for git branch names are an example of such problems.
My POV is that bad actors should never be a consideration - they are never going to be helpful whether you "empower" them or not. They should be removed from the equation entirely.
> We fundamentally disagree that use of the word "master" in a technical context is racist or a denial of human dignity.
I never claimed naming a default branch "master" is racist - changing it is petty and performative, and doesn't change anything overall. That said, the people who get outraged over this, claiming "PC culture has gone mad" or "'Wokism' is destroying the world" raise a red flag for me, and I immediately suspect them of being culture warriors. I didn't see the same levels of indignation when the kilobyte and megabyte were redefined from 1024 to 1000, but technically the changes are similar (minor annoyance that might break your code/build, but can be fixed with a search-and-replace).
> I don't see how our children grow up in a better world if we abandon all hope of reasoning with our fellow citizens.
Oh, I think reasoning with our fellow citizens is a wonderful thing, but it should not be a prerequisite for a subset of the citizenry to obtain what ought to be inalienable rights - it shouldn't be a negotiation. At times, well-meaning criticism from moderates/the squishy center - who are not as invested - can slow down the movement: I think MLK's "Letter from Birmingham" addresses this more eloquently than I can. Additionally, other movements who are (or feel) oppressed are not relegated to starting from a point of appealing to fellow-citizens: not the Pro-life, or the Pro-choice, or the Pro-2A contingents do this. Why is there a difference?
You'd actually be surprised. Most Pro-2A folks have given up on any hope for actually having the Supreme Court pick up a case, never mind coming to a positive judgement that makes the regulatory framework less fickle and perilous. Screw up with a gun, have a bad lawyer, and poof, everything becomes a felony. You lose voting rights, and your firearm. (Actually I think felonies are woefully overused as criminal punishments nowadays, period)
You can be turned into a felon in waiting overnight if the ATF deems it so. Few hopes at legislation are realistically attainable (silencers becoming non-NFA because of the hysteria around them, to the benefit of many enthusiast's ears) and other perfectly reasonable legislation everyone wants gets poisoned the minute another rider taking another chunk out of the 2nd Amendment gets attached. Most pro-2A groups have tried to build grass root support through friends and family to dispel the fear and mania around firearm ownership.
There are a lot of subgroups and interests all competing for limited legislative and public awareness resources; everything comes with a poignant attrition cost. Completely pointless changes for change sake like the branch name change are the worst type of wasteful expenditure of human organization. It doesn't get an actual physical result. It doesn't cut prison populations. It doesn't get kids in disadvantaged or resource poor districts a shot at better education or exposure to something new. It just lets someone uncomfortable with the world as they perceive it cathart through (in a tragedy of the common sense) being able to point at something and say, "Look, I did something!" Damned be the consequences or naysayers.
The changes are similar but they reasoning behind them isn't.
Personally I'm annoyed about the change to the point of refusing to use Github, as a protest. To me it strikes as being overly politically correct. The whole master/slave and white/blacklist thing is an insane stretch of wokeism. If anything I'll start using more of these "controversial" terms if it actually ticks these kinds of people off.
We disagree on strategy here. Bad faith actors have the power to damage the movement, and we should not give them opportunities to do so if it can be avoided. I want to be clear that I'm not saying we should diminish the fervor of the fight for social justice to accommodate racists, what I'm saying is that we shouldn't waste political capital on efforts that give us nothing in return; fanfare over git branch names gives us nothing, but gives them a talking point. To clarify even further, I'm not saying changing the name is wrong, I'm saying that elevating such trivialities into the wider conversation of social justice is harmful to the cause.
> I never claimed naming a default branch "master" is racist - changing it is petty, and doesn't change anything overall
So what were you referring to when you asked why we should supplicate racists before earning a chance at human dignity?
> People who get outraged over this claiming "PC gone mad" or "'Wokism' is destroying the world" raise a red flag for me and I immediately suspect them of being a culture warrior.
We are in total agreement here. My point is that an 800lb gorilla like github declaring such trivialities as progress towards social justice offers the culture warriors a brightly painted catalyst for delivery of their propaganda that they wouldn't otherwise have. If github were doing something meaningful then this would be a completely different situation because the positive changes they were enacting would outweigh any bleating of the bad faith actors, but since this isn't something useful, the sum total of the act is to harm the movement.
> Oh, I think reasoning with our fellow citizens is a wonderful thing
Your statement of "fuck hearts and minds" doesn't seem to reflect that belief, but I'm happy to take your word for it.
> it should not be a prerequisite for a subset of the citizenry to get what ought to be inalienable rights
I never made that argument. I was discussing the trivialities which were the topic of this article, not inalienable rights.
> I think MLK's "Letter from Birmingham" addresses this more eloquently than I can.
An excellent read of which I am very familiar, but I hope I've made it clear that on the topic of discussion (git branch names), the inalienable rights of oppressed peoples is not the subjective of my criticism.
Oh, absolutely - and that is fine.
Additionally, we're probably having slightly different conversations - you appear specifically focused on only Github's renaming of the default branch, and I on the more general "hearts and mind" argument - I used Github's action and the criticism thereof as a launchpad to a more general problem - perhaps I failed to communicate that clearly.
>> Oh, I think reasoning with our fellow citizens is a wonderful thing
> Your statement of "fuck hearts and minds" doesn't seem to reflect that belief, but I'm happy to take your word for it.
The phrase you quoted better captures my thinking when it's not truncated halfway; the second half of the sentence you elided is the more important half.
Yeah, this always ends well...
"pc gone mad! radical leftists want to ban the word "blacklist"!"
is a news segment that doesn't open with
"hey have you noticed that the EU is hilariously undemocratic"
We'll always have controversy and I really doubt that reducing it would improve the level of discourse one iota.
Media that prioritises controversy will do whatever they can to find or foment it rather than discuss the topics you listed.
You can see this dynamic in Republican posturing in the Biden era. Biden is a much harder topic for Republicans to attack. His Covid relief bill has broad bipartisan support and he's an old white guy just like Republicans like to see in office. So instead of wasting time and effort on trying to attack Biden or Covid relief, they spent the last few weeks attacking cancel culture and Dr. Seuss.
This move is the opposite, it lets those interested in social justice and equality participate in a political action. Any time you can energize your base around something, that's a great boon to your side.
More generally speaking, political battles are fought by people who care, not by people who don't. Actions taken that cause the uncaring to care even less are fine so long as they can get some people to care more.
For no better an illustration of this look to PETA. The only reason we still know who they are is because they've taken this as a holy dictate. We still know who they are because they're fantastically successful at creating absolute zealots.
Is that what you think is happening here? People are fighting against this change out of concern that if they support it, they won't be able to care about other, more important things down the line?
I witnessed a white woman exclaim she was revoking someone's Mexican card the other day because he voted for Trump. Supposedly the Mexican is the racist according to this ideology....
That said, I do recall getting “pat us on the back” vibes from GitHub but just wanted to throw this alternate justification out into the discussion.
Can I just briefly highlight that this wasn't "a thing" per se? This was a company privately deciding to pull some poorly selling publications from active publishing and adding a positive PR spin by calling out some questionable decisions in the art.
This was made into "an issue" by some pretty rabid media outlets rebranding it as government censorship while the decision was entirely privately made. That's a pretty terrible mis-categorization.
These sorts of controversies, from both the right and the left, sell news papers and that's the reason why media latches onto them so aggressively.
I've seen some of his WW2 propaganda and saw a lot of the contemporary artwork from other artists while I was in school - buck-toothed squinty asians in rice hats abound - and he very rightfully walked that back and acted in a reasonable manner. I don't think this has particularly tarnished his image but I also avoid twitter and facebook zealously so I tend to be outside of most of the outrage bubbles.
I do hope that his image continues to do well since he was ahead of the curve on a number of issues near and dear to my heart.
The Dr Seuss estate wasn't afraid of SJW's randomly cancelling them. And neither was Ebay or Amazon, which were instead signalling support for a society retcon that nobody - not even Dr Seuss' estate - asked for. Those latter companies are staffed by people experiencing the same cognitive dissonance in this comment thread.
Media made a big deal out of "canceling" Dr. Seuss and those books weirdly became an icon of free speech for some folks and now we've arrived at a place where secondary markets are being forced to take a stance on the issue.
Books get pulled from publication all the time - books even get pulled from publication for really extremist content (or are refused by publishers in the first place). This is only a circus now because some media outlets stirred it up. It is occasionally the case that some folks on the internet find something offensive and try and get it canceled with a petition - I loathe this process for a number of reasons - but this isn't what happened here, some media outlets took a nothingburger and turned it into a four course meal.
If you hike in the woods you'll pass by bee-hives all the time, that doesn't mean you always go out in heavy clothing - but if someone ahead of you on the trail kicked a hive repeatedly then you'll put on the clothing if you've got it. All the "thing" here is just reactionary to there being so much arbitrary attention directed at it in the first place.
I'm minimally troubled by the discontinuation of what I'm fairly sure actually -were- underperforming titles while also extremely pissed with ebay.
I must have missed that. All the criticism I've seen about the action was just that -- criticism of the private action, basically criticizing the editorial decision.
I haven't seen anyone confuse it with government regulation.
I pointed out that Ted Cruz had made such attacks and was also trying to make money off it.
Googling for "cruz tweet seuss" will provide you with plenty of first hand information about Cruz' actions; McCarthy also beclowned himself over the issue. If you prefer to disbelieve 'a bunch' that's up to you.
That was my point. Risk mitigation IMO
there is another comment talking about a black engineer not prioritizing this in their team and being told by the rainbow haired PMs that they were internalizing systemic racism.
do you think you would get unceremoniously cancelled instead instead of simply silenced like the black person thats assumed to be "the poor victim with no independent agency"? are you sure that is a valid fear?
There used to be a Confederate statue in the town square where I live. Many Black people worked over decades to point out what the statue symbolized, how the Klan had revised history in building that statue. Some white people wanted it gone. Finally a lot of white people wanted it gone. Then these same people
began calling for reparations. A local college instituted reparations. There are calls to engage with land back movements.
I’ve lived through many backlash cycles. Locally we’re still dealing with egregious health disparities that are costing Black lives daily. There is gentrification. The city’s just lived through a night in which white supremacy took the lives of several Asian women.
But something has changed.
Words matter. We have to keep chipping away at this monster.
In American politics/history I totally hear you. But maybe tech is a slightly different animal? 'White supremacy' is a tough sell when <40% are domestic-born christian white.
(none of the above comment is intended as a value statement on various ethnicities doing well/poorly, just an observation of how well they're doing).
> spanish are underrepresented.
I think you mean Hispanics and probably Latinos. Spanish are from Europe.
It's not just limited to "black" but also American Indians, gay people, trans, etc.
These all strike me as Priviledged people being offended for others and trying to scream "LOOK AT ME I'M FIXING THINGS!!!" with stuff that matters to no one... and in the end, they widen the divide and make everything 100x worse with all the policies to "fix" racism/sexism/all'the'other'isms but making everything about race/sex/etc.
So divisive and counter productive uses of time that solve nothing.
That's a very public name widely used in commerce.
It's not like there are millions of people walking around in "master branch" t-shirts with a caricature of an overseer on it.
I'm sure you can find "important" differences if you try playing Leeuwenhoek, but why?
I would love to spend more time on economic and tax code reform so as to make the United States more equitable. Would you like to join me? There is not a lot of benefit in arguing, "This is not the thing I think is most important for you to do, so you shouldn't do it" -- let people work on what they want to work on, and put your energy into making substantive change that you believe in.
It's not misdirection. It's just that these are issues you personally don't care about.
When everything is racist? nothing is.
That's the key problem with all of these diatribe's. Anything you disagree with is "racist actions" and thus real racist actions are lost in the sea of BS about team names and Aunt Jemima syrup.
what really hurts is, for instance, decades of redlining and systemic bias in politics, economics, education, nutrition, medicine, and a myriad of other daily, real issues that affect the lives of millions of americans, and billions of people worldwide.
this discussion is bullshit because we are not talking about those things. it's a misdirection.
Names do hurt. Does blackface hurt? That's essentially what having a team called the Redskins is. It's important to talk about how mass media and the mainstream will accept openly racist symbols. In the case of Native Americans it's also important to talk about how they went through a barely recognized genocide and have been systematically discriminated against in a major way.
It’s not even legal to talk about Nazis in Germany. Imagine the uproar if a sports team was named after a caricature of Jewish people?
People just want some basic dignity. The only people “obsessed” are those refusing to give it to them.
It's a privilege to not care. I feel sorry for everyone from other groups that are forced to care about inconsequential things because in aggregate all these inconsequential things that people demand that you care about end up being a denial of service attack, leaving you with less bandwidth to think about things that actually matter like working hard and working smart and building wealth.
If some group that was not Irish kept trying to get me and other people of Irish descent to waste brain cycles on such trivial non-consequential things, I'd ignore them and instruct others to ignore them.
It honestly boggles my mind that our culture has optimized for amplifying the voices of such people as it's so counter-productive.
I'm also 1/32 Native American and feel the same way about those mascots too.
It's honestly all so tiresome and wasteful of brain cycles. Heck, look how many smart people have commented on this story and all because these non-issues have been elevated to the point we're we are forced to waste brain cycles on this because it became intrusive and broke our work flows. Many activists in history have been great but much of what passes for "activism" today is not just useless, but actively counter-productive.
Just because you don't take issue with it, doesn't mean it's not offensive and a big deal to other people (who are often more than 1/32 Native American). The Redskins is a racist name, anyway you slice it. Try to replace red with brown or yellow and it's immediately obvious. I don't think every single case is as cut and dry as that one, but it's not fair to call these issues inconsequential.
Offensive to whom?
Someone is deciding which groups deserve to be free of offense, and which groups don't.
I'd like to shine a spotlight on them, and their hypocritical abuse of power over others.
There's no hypocrisy involved.
> it trivializes the movement
As a developer, I am comfortable with the change in terminology. As a human... My phenotypes are different from yours and OP's, but I am certain that if we do not bring the critique to bear against systemic enslavement of people (regardless of "targeted" phenotypes), we have all missed the point and really changed nothing. Who is blacker or whiter or truer to the tribe... these are serviceable distractions.
Slavery is abhorrent to any enlightened human. But slavery existed and continues to exist because those who profit like it that way.
If I were at the head of the org I would take the time & $ that would be wasted on this effort and invest it into underserved black schools. (of which there are many in the US)
It's really not an apt technical analogy. The most significant aspects of the master/slave relationship (ownership) are not present in the technical version.
Most of the relationships in that list would be more accurately described as lead/follower (followers copy or join in with the actions of a leader), boss/worker (workers work on tasks given them by a boss).
In protocols, work provider --(activates)--> work performer. None of nodes have autonomy, so any pair of terms that overlaps with (provider, performer) are equivalent.
Well, some terms are more accurate and some terms have greater baggage. If we're talking about a relationship where one node gives work and another node does the work, this is the kind of relationship we see everywhere in manager/employee relationships without unnecessary and inaccurate baggage about ownership or autonomy.
It's not even necessarily the case in a human master/slave relationship that the master gives work to the slaves, the key aspect is that the slave's work is done for the benefit of the master, but the actual assigning, coordinating and supervision of the work is not a core aspect of a masters role, and being itself work, would often be delegated to someone else.
I don't think language is innocent, but language is also not statically linked to history. I believe that changes to software terms do not solve any problem that the poor are facing.
Such changes make the preservers of hierarchy comfortable. That is all.
Most of this family of points seems to equate 1) being in favor of changing master to main; and 2) being in favor of stopping there.
Well for one thing it teaches people to be confused about the idea that meaning depends on context. Look at the dictionary definition of 'master' and you'll see that it doesn't exclusively represent the idea of a person who enslaves people. Consider:
* master of disguise
* grand master
* master's degree
* master tape
It also creates conflict for no good reason between people who are comfortable with multiple meanings of words and people who view any objection to their interpretation of the English language as evidence of racism.
Mostly nothing. Corporations can largely only avoid harming various groups, and engaging in fair business practices. They're not set up, by their incentive structure, to do work that reforms society at large.
Even non-profits need to focus on a specific mission, and they're usually most successful by putting people in touch with each other.
Because, especially if you look at it through the lens of "material" help, the further an action is from the control of the individual being helped, the amount of good that can be done per unit effort drops off dramatically.
We normally view individualism as a normative claim, that "the rugged individual" ought to help himself. But you can cast it as an observation: most help in your life is only effective (again, in terms of return for the effort involved) if it comes from you personally or someone quite close to you.
What do you mean? Name change of a default branch clearly fixes issues of racism in the software industry. Racism in IT = gone
Clearly the problem must be solved now.
If most things we can do is pointless, fuck it, everything we do is probably pointless.
I'm actively fighting against my own mindset to keep looking for things I can do that will make an effect. Most probably won't. I get it's just virtue signalling or whatever phrase of the week we're calling it but it's also inertia. Yes this one is pointless, but maybe the next step isn't.
Anyone that's ever been told what they're doing is useless will never know.
Shamefully I didn't give any consideration to anyone but myself, keeping my existing mindset everyone on the internet was a white guy like me with all the privileges I have. GitHub changing master to main might have been a joke to you, fair enough, but it opened my eyes.
I dunno I'm probably just whitesplaining, sorry.
Sure, it’s trivial. It doesn’t, in any significant way, actually do anything. But I find a lot of time when reviewing code — if there are code badly formatted or variables misspelled, I have a hard time looking at the actually problems in the code until those superficial things are fixed.
I don't see it that way. In my view, this change is worse than "nothing at all" because it doesn't represent any substantive change, but it does create fodder for bad faith actors to portray the movement for social justice as trivial.
I’m a white person who has performed in a professional production of The Black Nativity. I was literally part of the choir celebrating black traditions in the US.
I now work in software and think less of any racialized group using historic struggles as a tool of power, control, and oppression in the here and now.
Historic wrongs are not an excuse for present wrongs.
Edit: pronouns are hard.
I was mightily confused and had to read your post three times to get an idea of what you meant.
I'm not familiar with the LibreOffice change, but from what I can tell, it doesn't seem like this change was delivered with any fanfare or something like an official blogpost targeting the general public and presented as an effort towards inclusion and social justice. Instead, it seems to be treated by the developers in a manner that reflects exactly what it is, a trivial relabeling, perhaps in a positive direction, but one that doesn't merit injection into the wider discourse over racial justice. The developers made this change based on their personal values and in a way that doesn't interrupt the natural workflow of the users which inevitably draws scrutiny and creates contention. I'm all for developers using whatever labels align with their values, where I have a problem is the pronouncement of such trivialities as if they represent something meaningful.
Imho meaningless lip service: master branch -> main branch
Also imho the most insulting towards PoC and everyone else for that matter is to patronisingly assume people can't comprehend context, as OP's article points it out.
Whereas blacklist in its original forms was used outside of a racial context. I think it'll be pretty hard to try to break the association between black (the color) and night, hiddenness, unknown, sin, fear, etc. All of which are pretty negative, but not originally racial.
I also don't hold much truck with the 'insulting' and 'patronising' thing. It's perfectly possible for a white person to prefer to remove inappropriate and confusing terminology that trivialised historical injustices and/or glorified things they disagree with regardless of whether or not non-white people are offended by such usage. There seems to be an underlying view that a white person could only want to change such usage for inauthentic reasons. If we want to find things patronising, I find that patronising. Just because you're white doesn't mean you can't hold an authentic position of your own on these topics.
The (likely) basis for this belief, the GNOME mailing list post that reignited this discussion in 2019, was retracted the next year.
I wrote a summary of the history for Git Rev News, the git developers newsletter. In short, the usage didn't come from BitKeeper, and was intended to mean 'master copy'.
After the article was published, Aaron Kushner from BitKeeper reached out and gave me some more history on the usage of 'slave repository' in that one particular spot in BitKeeper: it was a presentation for a client that was already using master/slave terminology and so the same terms were used in the presentation.
1) The burden falls disproportionately on Git maintainers and on people with large amounts of dependencies to the old word which is not a good way to distribute work (across tech workers) when making changes especially since some people will not even notice the change.
2) Not everyone uses Git each day and I am certain that people who continue to use the word "master" without knowing a thing about what Git is will be viewed as racist and morally inferior. E.g. (Master of Ceremonies, Master of Arts, etc.). Explain how a tech worker can agree that "master branch" is offensive but putting that they have a "Master of Science" on their CV is fine.
3) Somewhat arbitrarily changing words with a tenuous relation to racism seems like an extremely passive aggressive, murky, and dangerous path to go down. Not only does it lay a trap for people to be accused of being racist but if this is acceptable it is inconsistent with not removing all words associated with slavery. Even words with a distant relation to slavery.
Honestly I find it terrifying that high ranking tech people can't see the cognitive dissonance they're showing.
Either they're lying in a pitiful attempt to fit in with the silicon valley leftist elites or they're actually intellectually inept. Either way it's not good.
Outliers like Peter Thiel aside do we actually know the personal politics and beliefs of people like Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, or Marc Benioff? They all seem perfectly fine on the PR-positive side of any issue and likely skew fiscally conservatives privately on matters that concern their personal fortunes.
Sure their companies skew "progressive" with LGBTQ inclusion, some diversity hiring (YMMV and some of it appears to be purely projection), and the banning of hate speech, fake news, and calls for violence, on Twitter and the de-platforming of Parler - but is that leftist or just doing the right thing?
" banning of hate speech, fake news, and calls for violence, on Twitter and the de-platforming of Parler - but is that leftist or just doing the right thing"
Hard to argue it's doing the "right thing" when Twitter lets actual dictators post to their platform and Facebook was found to be the main gathering platform for the capitol insurrection.
"Master of <subject_matter>" is pretty clear in that a person has mastered a trade or an area of study! No one confuses that with the idea of "Master/Slave" or "Master Branch" which implies a hierarchy that reminds some people of slavery, particularly the slavery that was practiced in the US.
There's an obvious contextual difference, and it's not some political conspiracy from an imagined "leftist elites" that I assume you think are coming for you. Conspiracy theories are unhealthy and I personally think you should let this one go.
The only thing unhealthy here is inventing problems where there aren't any and then trying to force the majority population to go along with your insane ideology while trying to paint them as bigoted if they don't like it. Sounds like a recipe for creating a dystopian society.
Please tell me what good will come out of this? Because I can think of a lot of negatives.
Slave owning in the US was heavily linked to racist ideology, that's simply history.
> without actually doing anything helpful.
"main" is both shorter and more ergonomic to type
> then trying to force
None of my old repos have broke over the new suggested default
> insane ideology
Maybe they took not being racist a little too far, but changing a single word is hardly "insane" or "ideology".
> while trying to paint them as bigoted if they don't like it
I think the only people getting painted as bigots are the ones painting themselves with their over-reactions.
> dystopian society
With the way some of these complaints were worded, you'd think they changed the default new repo branch name to "stalin" or "karlmarx" or "漳州市" and started disabling non-compliant accounts, so I had to read the article, no it's actually a really boring and unintrusive default branch name of "main" for new repos.
You realize that word existed before the US was even a country right? You also realize that the word is used in many contexts with no relation to anything dealing with skin color or slavery right?
"Maybe they took not being racist a little too far, but changing a single word is hardly "insane" or "ideology"."
You've got your head in the sand and are oblivious to what's going on at a national level if you think this just involves a tiny one word change happening at GitHub. There's a broader cult like indoctrination happening with the current administration and it's cascading all the way down to schools and the workplace.
I'm really tired of hearing this spiel about how we shouldn't get upset because this is just one silly word. Well since it's filling children's minds with critical race theory in schools and training them they're subconsciously evil if they're a certain color I find it quite upsetting.
Btw here's the etymology of the word to prove your point even more incorrect https://www.etymonline.com/word/master
Black slaves had something called "masters".
> if you think this just involves a tiny one word change
I literally unironically believe this, and the only skin I have in this game is that "main" is shorter and more ergnomic to type.
> There's a broader cult like indoctrination happening
Yeah, it's called "qanon" and "postmodern conservatism".
> it's filling children's minds with critical race theory in schools
I'm not an alt right extremist who believes in nonsensical white supremacist conspiracy theories, so the fact that children are getting a real education is not a problem for me.
I'd only add for me it is every time.
Its the master/slave dynamic that is considered the issue...if there were Slaves of Ceremonies and Slaves of Arts as official titles, we might eventually take a second look at the naming too.
Real talk though, when this first blew up, I took the opportunity to change all my master branches to trunk, the oldest and best term for "that from which branches grow".
"main" is lame, it reeks of compromise and giving the least amount of thought possible to the replacement. Worse, it shares the same first two letters with "master", and that means more time spent typing out the wrong branch name, muscle memory being what it is.
While the “master” branch is clearly using master in the sense that it asserts control of the other branches in some way.
So IMO, explaining could be done by pointing at the dictionary.
Master as in expert, meritorious of command, arbiter of truth.
They all mean the same and you can't have a master's degree without a master copy of information.
Control is exerted only by virtue of being correct.
Compare to other uses in technology that are far more directly related to control, and far less likely to change, e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_Peripheral_Interface
Master/Slave flip-flops, on the other hand, are named for behavior closer to the connotation github is trying to avoid.
And, I'll also add, as a young White child who built and played with master/slave flip-flops, it never occurred to me to associate it with people, slavery, or racism. Maybe if I had been Black it would have been different.
Maybe it's easy to spin this way, but that's not where git's terminology comes from. It originated in a system meant to migrate away from BitKeeper, which did use the master/slave terminology. Citation: https://mail.gnome.org/archives/desktop-devel-list/2019-May/...
In short; no there is no master/slave terminology in Git.
The person commenting on the Gnome mailing list was mistaken.
wherein a black musician explores the idea of master/slave ownership in the recording industry.
EDIT: So confusing to me why this was voted down. Please help.
I'm just speculating here -- HN doesn't even allow downvotes to direct responses, so it's not me -- a little more tie-in to the thread might help understand the context and relevance of a music video (HN tends to prefer text over video, and prose/exposition over music). Or maybe there's a bot that downvotes anything with certain words. Or maybe there are one or two people who happened to accidentally downvote because the button was lined up with their thumb when they were scrolling on their phones.
If we scroll to the adjective section, we see three notable definitions:
> 28 directing or controlling: a master switch.
I assume this is the definition you are thinking of?
But I don't agree that this is the definition git is thinking of. I think it's either:
> 27 chief or principal: a master list.
> 29 of or relating to a master from which copies are made: master film; master matrix; master record; master tape.
I would agree that the definition you are referring to has racist connotations, but I don't think #27 or #29 does.
Additionally, I don't think sense 29 actually makes sense here. A "master copy" is immutable. Once somebody burns a master record, that's it — you're done. You make copies from that one because it is deemed "correct" in some sense.
But git branches are not immutable; they are able to be added to at any point. The master branch can be interpreted as collating the work done by all of the other branches: non-master branches do some work, then it gets merged back to `master`. Which means... the master branch is coordinating work done in other branches. And, in many git workflows, work on the master branch itself is discouraged, meaning almost all work is done in separate branches and then the master branch is used to accumulate that work, and is the main reference point to see "the current state of things". I don't think it's a stretch to see why the master/slave relationship seems a more fitting sense of "master" than "master copy".
That GNOME mailing list post was retracted the next year.
I wrote a summary of the history for Git Rev News, the git developers newsletter. In short, the usage didn't come from BitKeeper, and was intended to mean 'master copy'.
After the article was published, Aaron Kushner from BitKeeper reached out and gave me some more history on the usage of 'slave repository' in that one particular spot in BitKeeper: it was a presentation for a client that was already using master/slave terminology and so the same terms were used in the presentation.
Quick search of definitions of master include (paraphrased slightly for brevity):
-(n) person with people working for them
-(n) person in charge
-(adj) showing great skill
-(v) to acquire complete knowledge/skill in something
-(v) to overcome (as in one's emotions)
Depending on whether it had a more literal or more abstract genesis, I could see almost all of those variants apply to Master of Science.
Similarly, for master branch -- it could easily be 4 of the 6.
Now add in the fact that these meanings change over time, that they can be coined organically vs. explicitly, and that different early adopters can themselves have different connotations of the meaning in mind.
TLDR: There's nothing simple or clear about the case for removal.
Expecting others to know what's happening in your own head and getting offended when they don't is absolute insanity. This is why we have language standards.
Not knowing how language works and being mad that it changes LIKE IT'S ALWAYS DONE is absolute insanity. Not being able to handle change is a common problem for a lot of humans, but it doesn't mean the change is at fault, it's your ability to cope with differences as they emerge.
Your point? Those changes happen as people in the ENTIRE society agree on them. They don't happen because a small minority or some ridiculous elitist in San Francisco pulled it out of his/her/xer ass one day and decided to dictate to everyone what a word means. If we do not agree then you're essentially creating your own language and communication becomes ineffectual.
Equally, one individual doesn't get to dictate what a word means in their own head and expect others to follow along, while accusing them of being bigoted for not doing it. The minority of offended individuals don't get the power to make these decisions.
1, If you believe in Jesus, then you can walk on water. If you can't walk on water, then you don't truly believe in Jesus.
2, Chinese saying, "杀人诛心“，meaning that accusing one's motive is worse than killing that person, as the accused couldn't even defend against the accusation. Attacking the Motive is a logical fallacy, no?
3, Back in the 1960s in China, if you were born in a not-so-red family and denied that you were counter revolutionary, then you were just deeply counter revolutionary, and therefore deserved more severe punishment.
Since when people are not judged by their behavior but their thoughts that someone else assert?
Hopefully an example that’s not too prickly: I’m from the south of the US. I don’t have a southern accent (except when drunk or sleepy!). A lot of people, myself included, have an unconscious bias that people with southern accents are less intelligent than people without. However, I’ve known lots of smart people with southern accents, and lots of unintelligent people without them. I don’t know why I have this bias: it was instilled in me by the culture I grew up in, I guess. But, because I am aware of it, I can watch out for those reflexive feelings that make it more likely for me to dismiss something someone is saying just because of their accent. I can adjust my actions to align with the kind of unbiased person I’d like to be, even though I can’t control the lingering feelings the bias creates.
This is the general idea of wanting people to be aware of their implicit biases: not to judge them due to those biases, but to help them see that, due to societal or cultural or familial influence, they may not be living up to the kind of person they’d like to be. There’s a huge difference between someone who’s consciously racist and someone who has racist priors due to the culture they grew up in. Many in the latter group accidentally propagate racist systems, even though they would never want to do so if they had a conscious choice. But it’s hard for anyone to see how their subconscious affects their day-to-day opinions. The hope of teaching about implicit bias is that people can see its effect in their lives and make adjustments, hopefully reducing the systemic problems that people face in the process.
Saying “I’m not a racist” may be treated as having failed to do that self-reflection in some camps, because usually, for most people, things are more nuanced. So a sign of having done that reflection is often an unwillingness to make such categorical statements about something as complex as our own internal motivations and feelings. I’m not sure whether or not that’s fair, but I would imagine that’s where some of that comes from.
Calling two different things the same thing is always a problem, and weaponisable. Which is why people do it.
It is also important to realize that most humans are biased against admitting they’re wrong, and that it’s hard to see things you haven’t perceived before. So, it can be hard to recognize our own implicit biases without conscious and honest work. All anyone is saying is that doing that work can help to make everyone’s collective lives easier.
So if you're on the lookout for weaponization, be sure to look around widely. None of us is immune to having our "common sense" flattered.
Almost (probably everyone) has biases. That is nothing new, and I would think is uncontroversial. Allowing your biases to dictate your behavior in an uncritical way can be damaging, either for yourself or others. That I also think should be uncontroversial.
People who grew up in a given culture tend to have shared biases. Some of those will be useful, some will be harmful. This is not to say they that every member of that culture shares those biases. My guess is that what you're talking about is the tendency to assume that a particular member of some culture has a bias that is common in their culture as a whole (for example, to use a US-specific example, if I assume that any Southerner I meet is biased against socialistic ideas). This is clearly not always going to be accurate, but may be an assumption made for safety's sake when you're in a vulnerable population and you know that those biases can be damaging to you (if I'm secretly a communist living in the South, it may be better to hold that in on average to avoid problems).
I think the reason these conversations may seem "targeted" at well-off white people in the current cultural context isn't because other groups don't have biases (they do!), or that every white person holds a given bias (they don't!), but because well-off white people on average hold more power, and therefore their biases are as a consequence more likely to cause harm.
And also, sure, I'm sure there are people who go overboard with all of this, but that is true of literally any position. Letting the extremists define the discourse isn't going to help anything.
But this escapes me and no one seems to have a good answer. Until then I have to categorize it as an emotional response and handle it in the same way, which is basically just empathizing, consoling, and not necessarily fixing the root of the problem. I need to know what to measure and how to fix it: I've been through the corporate unconscious bias training a couple of times and it did none of that. Until then I'm a skeptic.
I was shocked with my own results from the gender/career bias test.
At the end of the day, the test doesn't tell you how to fix it, it shows you that these patterns of thought are deeply ingrained in how we think and the way to "fix" it is to actively go against the biases we have been trained on. There is are some good resources here as well. https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/faqs.html#faq14
> The results may fluctuate and should not be used to make important decisions.
which is the gap.
To get to your comment, unfortunately I think that measuring our own thought processes is far from a solved problem. And I'm not sure that implicit biases are necessarily a problem that can be "solved." A huge part of being in society is subduing certain of our more damaging natural inclinations, essentially being civil: not yelling and hitting people when we're angry, being willing to be bored for long periods of time in order to get something we need, etc.
I really do think you hit the nail on the head with this:
> Until then I have to categorize it as an emotional response and handle it in the same way, which is basically just empathizing, consoling, and not necessarily fixing the root of the problem
Largely, these things are emotional responses, and just like emotional responses, they're not necessarily rational or useful. Often the only thing we can do is recognize that they're there, let them exist, and refuse to act on them.
To be clear, I'm not making any claims here about any kind of corporate training. I'm not sure that I'm personally convinced that mandatory corporate training does any good in any situation, although I'm inclined to say that I guess it's better than nothing, in that it at least (hopefully) makes clear what the official company line is on things, and makes it clear that e.g. blatant sexism is not okay in the workplace, even if it doesn't actually change the opinions of any workplace harassers or misogynists. That being said, I am also deeply skeptical of its ability to effect any real change in people.
These tests have been administered to large numbers of people and on average, almost every single person that has taken the test has scored some level of implicit bias. As a result, it's very likely (but not certain) that you ARE unaware of your implicit bias.
Of course, if you take the tests and score perfectly, you'll now be able to demonstrate empirically that you have no measurable implicit bias and will have an answer to those people who insist you do.
The reason why this is different to the walking on water statement, is that there are hundreds of thousands of data points all showing implicit bias is almost universal, whereas there are zero data points showing people can walk on water after believing in Jesus.
The good news:
> There's been some evidence that the IAT is pretty robust. Most trivial matters like position of items don't much much of a difference. People who were asked to convincingly fake an IAT effect couldn't do it.
The bad news:
> A common critique of the test is that the same individual often gets two completely different scores taking the same test twice. As far as re-test reliability goes, .6 correlation is pretty good from a theoretical point of view, but more than enough to be frequently embarrassing. It must be admitted: this test, while giving consistent results for populations, is of less use for individuals wondering how much bias they personally have.
Otherwise, I don't think the implicit bias is what OP said. Our HR would remind us recency bias, for instance, during a perf review. That kind of implicit bias does exist and is worth reminding.
Teasing out those differences could help e.g. layout information and design cameras and image pipelines to reduce the effects of bias.
The difference from your examples is that an act or attitude can be racist, but that doesn’t make YOU racist. You are not defined by a single event any more than a single belief defines your broader theology.
I am not familiar with Chinese philosophy and find your perspective very interesting.
"So, next time you are annoyed that you have to fix a script or you accidentally type master when you needed to type main, please just take a deep breath, change the name, and remember to reflect upon whether you have are subconscious habits or biases that work against diversity in tech."
In order words, the next time you have the urge to think critically about what you are allowed to type and who is forcing that decision upon you take a deep breath, shallow your skepticism, and reflect upon whether you have been indoctrinated enough into the new political Zeitgeist.
Non of their ancestors were slaves.
We have social issues, mostly because the huge differences in culture and exposure to technological and educational advances. And the fact these people are immigrants. Sure there's racism, and troubles.
But the narrative is completely different from the american narratives. Because of the US hagemony in entertainment and media, you see young jewish black (mostly from ethiopian origin) espousing the American narrative. This is extremely hurtful for their cause as it is not into touch with their reality.
So basically, I hate the american wokeness wars because of the havoc the wreck on non american societies. Not because the blacks in the US are treated fairly, but because the media frenzy is making it impossible to actually get things better.
Not much to add, thought it might be interesting.
Not that we don't have problems with racism – we absolutely do – but the context and reasons are just completely different to the point where the American conversation on the topic for the most part just doesn't apply at all, but unfortunately not everyone seems to have realized this.
For context, I'm Finnish and many of my ancestors were sold as slaves as well.
But in most contexts, white privilege doesn't care about your actual ancestry. A 2nd generation black immigrant from Africa to NYC will face some of the same discrimination as a descendant from slaves. And with your white skin you will receive some of the same privileges as a wealthy descendant of the Mayflower.
It doesn't really hurt to recognize this, and it doesn't have to "erase" the pain that your ancestors went through. It's simply recognizing that there are inherent subliminal biases in our systems and society.
It's a form a privilege. It doesn't make you bad. It doesn't mean your life is easy. But it's worth recognizing.
Now let's compare this theoretical white person to a theoretical black person with none of these privileges. One caveat though, the white person is poor and the black person is rich.
Now the question is, does the economic privilege of the black person offset the other privileges of the white person?
In my opinion and the opinion of the person you're replying to, the answer is yes. Economic privilege generally outweighs other privileges, so focusing on these other privileges seems counterproductive if we want to increase equality.
If you think a poor white person can drive around West Virginia in a beat up car without being pulled over and harassed because they look like they deal meth you don’t know what the average experience is like.
If someone wants to say my privilege was not living in that type of area then I guess maybe, though my situation wasn't too much better. This whole notion of having privilege is absurd.
In some cultures, the aspect of giving every single person inalienable rights and equality isn't explicitly valued like it is in the west. I wouldn't want to impose western values on those cultures.
However, your argument boils down to whataboutism. Yes there are other countries with other forms of privilege. Yes there are civilizations in the past with other forms of privilege. In the US we tend to value equality, and in the pursuit of that we must recognize all forms of privilege that exist in our society. It doesn't matter that it exists elsewhere.
FYI I am not at all talking about the original article. I was simply responding to this tangent comment thread.
Only because there haven’t been any large groups of white immigrants to the US in recent history. If there were, you could expect to see the same sort of intolerance you can see in Europe, where some people really do care a lot about your ancestry, even if you’re just as white as them.
That's not what the Gestapo did.
This, too, is a bit of an overreaction.
There's nothing objectionable about this.
I am disgusted at corporations, companies and professionals tagging on the bandwagon with PC. It is just not genuine.
its only the people that would be vicariously offended.
Its optimal for them to make up parts of houses and arbitrarily rename neighborhoods to attract the most people
Just wanted to point out there's a huge difference here. Black communities in America very much live with the legacy, and remanifestation (I recommend reading The Color of Law), of slavery in their everyday lives. At one point in US history, nearly 10% of american identified as KKK members. Do you think all of them suddenly disappeared.
There's also huge legacies in our academia. Just a couple decades ago sociology was essentially the study of eugenics in our own country while anthropology was the study of eugenics in other countries. Even commonly used terms in statistics (e.g. regression to the mean) root from the study of eugenics. There's been much scholarship dedicated to clearly tracing these roots and a constant theme of antiblackness
PBS has a great history documentary called "American Experience: The Eugenics Crusade" that I'd highly recommend if you wanna start to dig at the heels of how deeply rooted this is in our culture
- GitHub prefers cheap virtue signaling not only to actually caring about racism, but to technical merit and customer service: the public pays for this PR stunt with *millions* of adjustments to their repositories and working copies
- Branch names, and many other similar things, are now a battleground for freedom of expression, exposed to dangerous storms of political correctness
- GitHub has the arrogance of trying to control how people call their branches, and ultimately people's political ideology through the manipulation of language
> - GitHub prefers cheap virtue signaling not only to actually caring about racism, but to technical merit and customer service: the public pays for this PR stunt with millions of adjustments to their repositories and working copies
Neither git nor GitHub is forcing the branch names to change. git added the ability to specify a default branch instead of hardcoding it to 'master'. Github is taking this into consideration by allowing the users to specify their own default branch as well, and updating documentation and command examples to use 'main' as the default branch name.
> - Branch names, and many other similar things, are now a battleground for freedom of expression, exposed to dangerous storms of political correctness
No freedom of expression concerns here. You actually have more freedom now as git, GitHub, GitLab now make it easier to choose your own default/primary branch instead of hardcoding it to initialize to 'master'.
> - GitHub has the arrogance of trying to control how people call their branches, and ultimately people's political ideology through the manipulation of language
GitHub is not controlling anything. You, like always, can name your default branch 'master' if you want.
FWIW I live in Paris, France and I think the tech scene is quite diverse here.
And I'm not saying racism is not an issue, but I also have black friends that told me that they never experienced it.
In the end you'll find that it's the classic divide between Europe and America, seeing society as different classes versus different "races".
Many statements are selection bias or apex fallacy. The author of the original article talks about $20m donations as though that's the case for the majority of white people, instead of just a rounding error. What's worse is assuming that an observation must be selection bias, when selection bias needs demonstrating.
"In 2010, France passed a law prohibiting people from wearing clothing in public that covers your face. And although many blasted the law as Islamophobic, the "burqa ban" remains in place today, punishable with a fine and citizenship course."
Here's the third search result for the term "is france a tolerant society?", from Wikipedia which has a wiki dedicated to that topic :
"Racism is regarded by many in French society as a significant social problem. Racism against Jews and Muslims has a long history, and acts have been reported against members of resident groups including Algerian, Berbers and Arabs. In 2016, the French National Commission on Human Rights reported that 8% of French believe that some races are superior to others."
Having free education for everybody surely helps.
Yep, crazy. As an offshoot of that, affirmative action is also forbidden. True story.
tl;dr: such data was used during the Nazi occupation and France helped deportation
I'm sure the far right in France would love to have ethnic statistics, especially for crime rates... it's the left that historically pushed back against it.
The term "contribution" implies active impact on a problem. It comes from the Latin "contribuere" which means to "bring together" or to "add". If X contributes to Y, you should be able to measure the contribution, but there's no way to measure the impact of something that never existed in the first place.
There are several forms of affirmative action that depend on things like income and local disparities.
My guess is that it ingrains a different habit--patting ourselves on the back for 'defeating racism' via some banal change or other. Or worse, that it leads them to write off the whole movement as disingenuous for all of its focus on pointless endeavors. It's probably another drop in the bucket of things that make people actively unsympathetic and perhaps even drives them toward the open arms of the far-right. Call me cynical, but it seems unlikely that any substantial change is going to manifest from this. Just a little more self-righteousness for some people and a little more bitterness for others.
This is a really interesting framing and I appreciate it.
As a Caucasian American, I have been perplexed by this issue. The terminology change itself didn't especially annoy me - you don't have to change your existing repositories after all - but it didn't seem to really accomplish anything useful. My instinct was that this served no purpose beyond PR ("virtue signaling") and might be mildly harmful at worst (as a distraction from important structural issues, a constant reminder to right-wing people how annoying liberal scolds can be to them) without any upside I could actually envision.
I feel like what you describe was very far from the original intent, whatever it might have been, but I appreciate that it may help in some small way I did not envision.
It is entirely about those "annoying liberal scolds"... and the way anything they say will be turned into an existential crisis. I feel like this is less about any actual change as a constant search for a thing to be aggrieved about, and when found, pounced on with absolutely maximum force.
I think of it as "vice signaling": performing the objections without even a moment's thought, not for the purpose of refuting it but to be seen as being the most, loudest, most obnoxious opposition.
I don't feel like we're reading the same thread. There are plenty of reasonable objections in these comments, and dismissing as you do is, to me, as intellectually shallow as the change in question.
I work on a software team that has the usual level of diversity, an almost equal mix of East Asian, Indian, Middle-Eastern, and White developers, a few women, and not a single black developer. Here's the problem though... I've been part of the screening and interviewing process and we've only had ONE black person apply, he was an immigrant from Africa. He made it all of the way through the interview process, but did not get the job for reasons that I am unaware of, though I did give him a yes vote as he seemed competent and friendly to me.
Given that we have screened and interviewed hundreds of applicants and as far as I'm aware he was the only black developer to apply, how can we as individuals on the team make a difference to try to be more inclusive?
This has been true everywhere that I've worked. In my entire career spanning > 25 yrs I've only had the opportunity to work with one black developer. He was extremely good, but timid, very soft spoken, and too quick to self-judge, leading to him not very proactive at advertising his successes, which was unfortunate as he was doing great work, but not recognized by the majority of the team. When I later became his manager I would go out of my way to ensure that every major accomplishment of his was widely publicized, but by then the perception had already been set.
It seems to me that the root problem is further up than the hiring process -- it feels like it's something that needs to start at a younger age, encouraging more people outside of the usual circle to consider tech as a career in the first place, but maybe I'm not blind to my own short-sightedness and would love to be shown where I personally can effect change.
What is the goal of inclusivity? What is better for your team, having the best developers or having the most diverse developers? What is the productivity and value of diverse developers versus expert developers? Is a developer more valuable because of the skills or because of the skin color? Would you want to be treated by a competent doctor or by a black doctor? I am not saying there are no competent black doctors, but you make it sound that color is more important than competence.
Imagine the coal mine next to you that has the target to hire a certain percent of black people, 50% females and 5% LGBT: it would close instantly because it cannot meet the target. But just imagine the value of the different perspective a black coal miner would bring, compared to the wonderful perspective of the female miners.
reach out to people with the skillset you like.
black engineers have jobs. the government and defense contractors recruit at schools that have a higher percentage of black software engineers. its not that hard of a concept.
I know a few black developers. They have no problem staying employed. Big surprise! They're developers, we're blessed to have a chronic shortage of labor. There isn't an untapped labor pool of chronically underemployed black developers, because they aren't incompetent at greater rates than their non-white peers.
So with extraordinary effort, a company can get up to the ~13% ratio which would represent parity. Or a black startup founder from an HBCU could draw on her peers and get a much higher percentage.
But, relentlessly, that means other companies will have even fewer than 5%. If having 13% of American-born developers be black is a worthwhile goal (and I don't see why not), hiring harder can't reach it. It just can't.
So clearly and unsurprisingly there is a problem at the top of the funnel (3% << 13%), but it sure seems like there's a problem lower in the funnel too. I assume those folks aren't turning down SWE job offers to take administrative jobs. To your point, obviously every engineering team can't be 13% black if only 6%  of people qualified to write code are black, but if big organizations are way below 6% black it seems fair to ask why.
 Using the share of black CS grads as a somewhat bogus approximation, this is probably an underestimate since black developers are disproportionately likely to come from non-traditional backgrounds, as the article points out
This is a reasonable assumption, though I'm interested what they classify as Office and Administration.
There could also be some confounding variables here. For example, perhaps black people are less likely to move across the country for jobs because they prefer to stay close to family (I.e. cultural differences).
Of course, the easy way out is to say that the system is biased against black people. Which might well be true, but we don't know that.
I think Asians are a very interesting example of the effect of culture. There is definitely strong cultural pressure for them to go into specific fields and be high achievers, so it's no surprise to me that they are massively overrepresented in the Computer and Tech field.
This is all to say: I agree it doesn't look great, but there could easily be hidden reasons for the large drop off in the funnel.
you are desperately looking for something that wasn't suggested or said, but if you weren't (despite asking a question and responding with a conclusion you already had) the answer to your first question is "no". it would not be racist to expand recruiting to more engineering schools. and outside of that many existing recruiters have no difficulty reaching out to engineers with skills they like, this person's company does not seem to do that.
also this person’s company doesnt do any recruiting so that not a strong argument for them
Also recruiting in universities is an effort that does not scale, I did that for about 5 years and it was not possible to reach all the universities in my country, so I had to limit myself to the universities in the top 3-4 cities that I could reach. Yes, I left out some that may have some good candidates, but this is a limitation of resources and not an intentional exclusion "I don't go to X because I don't like them". In the old days companies were not putting announcements to hire in every newspaper in every small city across the country, but only in key places to maximize output per cost.
its not harming other groups
expanding recruitment efforts to places that include more black developers is not racist by any definition. maybe you aren't reading this the same way, its places that also include more black developers
it is not racist by any definition of the word. just because they change a practice does not make it racist, even if their reasoning was as contrived as you think it is, it still would not be racist/prejudiced/exclusionary-to-other-groups when the result is simply expanding efforts to places that also include more black developers
2) we're talking about expanding recruiting for all races and somehow you still misread that, choosing to focus on the reason that recruiting would be expanded as controversial
2) That’s a very dishonest framing of the issue. And I am not even sure why focusing on the controversial part is used as accusation of something bad ?
Eliminating words from a vocabulary is very 1984-like. Those words have a deep historical meaning, allowing ourselves to just "remove them" is akin to forgetting and ignoring the dark past of slavery, rather than remembering and acknowledging it (with the hopes it will never happen again).
Saying that it helps change habits (in my opinion) is analogous to saying that preventing kids from playing violent video games will reduce mass shootings (there is evidence it does not). I disagree with your premise that this pushes us to change habits and is only a mechanism to be ashamed of our shared (and dark) history. Lest we forget.
This thread has demonstrated that plenty of people are committed (har har) to calling their repository's je ne sais quoi branch `master`.
While I'm with you that I don't understand how this will move the needle on racial equity, I'm uncomfortable with how visceral of a reaction a group of technology professionals is having to what is essentially a library changing a default value.
Like, vocabulary changes all the time. Technology changes even more frequently. Why y'all so scared to use a different label?
I agree that the outrage can sometimes seem out of proportion to the change itself, but I can also understand why people who write software in general would be offended by the silliness of the whole episode.
I read the announcement from Oct. 1  and it doesn't have any explanation outside of a link to a Software Freedom Conservancy  (the folks now maintaining Git)
A lot of people here are assuming virtue signaling, but it could just as easily be "a majority number of our staff was behind this change". Unless GitHub has stated the why somewhere (I spent ~5m googling to no avail) we simply don't know.
Because you just created a massive amount of tech debt that needs to be addressed in the here and now without convincing people that creating this tech debt was worth creating in the first place and when there is a lot of other tech debt that actually matters that still hasn't been paid off.
Like someone else said here: "On one hand, here I am trying to get work done and on the other hand you have these people actively slowing me down. These people are my enemy"
I would posit to your quotee that they're being phenomenally self-centered.
Github has been mum about the why behind this change, but I'd bet my hat it wasn't because they wanted to actively slow down't their users.
This is overly dismissive. Build pipelines that interact with bespoke branches now need dynamism for backwards compatibility; a value that was previously static is now changeable. That doesn't really qualify as brittle to me; that any value in a codebase must be changeable is a ridiculous requirement from a codebase.
I work with build systems in my day-to-day, and I can't remember the last time I worked with something that didn't support dynamic branch names but did support git
But my experience is obviously skewed by where I work.
But with every build system I work with (which are: Jenkins, Concourse, Github Actions, and Gitlab CI) you can make any branch you want the branch-to-build-on.
Every book and piece of documentation on git is now obsolete. People learning git will now hit a wall trying to do very basic things.
This is an extremely privileged and dangerously ignorant point of view.
There are more people living in slavery across the world right now than ever before in human history.
Maybe we should reflect on that fact instead of simply covering up words which make us uncomfortable in a vain attempt to expiate self imposed guilt for being born with a particular shade of skin.
I don't care if it's a new JS library breaking dependencies to support import instead of require or if it's idiots changing names of things. These people are my enemy.
If I already have zero tolerance for whatever virtue signalling crap is popular in the mostly white and affluent San Francisco, is because of behaviours like this one.
On the bright side, this can help more people to discover there is a world outside of the liberal bubble, hopefully contributing to a more balanced society.
(black ancestors, libertarian background)
I don't mind change if it is for the better, for example postgresql instead of master-slave uses master-standby which is much more accurate how the replication works. Perhaps using main by GitHub is better, but because of timing, it feels like it was made to help forget about that part of the history, which IMO is doing the opposite of what was intended.
I am not concerned about diversity in tech and this was never on my mind until it started getting shoved down everyone's throat by American companies and activists. Many European countries blindingly copy whatever comes out of the USA, so now it's here too.
For me it's just one more annoying thing I feel that some privileged brats that I never met and don't care to meet are forcing others to spend time on.
Is it the better long-term approach? If you give in to a vocal minority what is stopping them from trying to change something else? Git means "an unpleasant or contemptible person". Surely that could be construed as offensive. What happens when / if a vocal minority decides Git and Github need to change their name? Should Github just change their name to prevent backlash?
Not to mention it appears to be mostly white people pushing this change, not even the alleged victims.
Nobody would have complained about GitHub doing nothing had GitHub done nothing.
Now we get to complain about their mindless actions, and possibly later on their spineless back-pedalling.
"Some of them will complain" -- a majority? Then yes, it makes sense to listen and adapt. Or, a loud minority who threatens? I don't believe that the change was made due to any overwhelming user feedback.
You are completely inverting democracy.
If 98% of people vote that something isn't offensive, and 2% vote that it is, and your takeaway from this is "the thing is offensive", then how can anything ever be determined to be not offensive?
If you really want to, you can use "master" as the name on your new repos. You simply have to manually type that in now.
Glad we settled that one!
This is a useful reminder. It's a reminder that associative thinking can invert causal relationships and turn anything into a symbol for anything else. There is no rational limit to things that can be attacked this way. Someone can demand you to change the way you talk or dress, what you read or watch, how you do your job. The changes themselves can be anything and the only limit to their extent is your willingness to say no.
And by the way, don't ever forget who is enforcing this. This is not your coworker individually asking you do something differently to accommodate them. This is coming top-down from one of largest tech corporation in the world.
Let's not exaggerate, they just changed the default for new repos, everyone is free to continue naming their branches "master" or "stable" or "trunk" or whatever they want.
In today's hyper-socialized society there is not really much difference between "you are forced to make this change" and "make this change or else you will be socially outcast by all your peers".
Github is used by millions of developers all over the world. There is almost certainly at least one person in every western software company that regularly uses github. They have the power to broadcast messages into every software company in the western world, and right now this message is "make this change or you are racist".
I've never heard this stated so clearly and succinctly. Thanks for advancing the conversation.
Yeah, I totally need that, because there is not enough churn in tech. For instance, every release of Android since 4 has been identical in terms of UI, so I haven't had to learn any new subconscious habit in the use of a phone.
Web developers haven't had to learn new framework in over a decade; they could use this, too, not to mention C++ devs.
I was caught off guard by the change when it was implemented, and was frankly quite annoyed. My suspicions were the same as the author's, that the reasons were likely insincere. But I never made the leap you did to (try and) assess my subconscious biases. Thank you for the insight!
On an other note, 'main' is fewer letters to capture the same idea ad therefore more efficient.
It's creepily similar to the indoctrination technique of teaching people they are evil and can only be redeemed by following <belief system of choice>.
I think you’re optimistic in your formulation that there is redemption in that system. That or it’s a very useful paraphrase.
To delve into this a little bit more - if mankind is _by nature_ depraved / evil, then there is nothing more to say or do. We are fighting against our nature, trying to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps out of a morass which we were born into. There is no point in trying, because we are broken. We can only hope that the principle of sufficient reason (a cause must be sufficient to explain its effects) is false and that our AGI children will be able to be born free from our defects and destroy / save us.
IFF mankind is not _by nature_ depraved, then either:
* We are not currently depraved (and live in Eden [which seems ... unlikely])
* We are injured (in some way).
The doctrine of Original Sin, looked at from a purely natural perspective, is the declaration that "man is not by nature depraved, but he is suffering from an ancient injury". Which is much more hopeful than any of the other options.
So either subconscious bias is religious and dogmatic like original sin, or subconscious bias is hopeful and not religious like original sin.
Original Sin is just as real to the worldview of millions over centuries as Subconscious Bias is to others.
They changed the goddamned name of the master branch.
You're gonna have to explain to me how changing that name makes much more significant headway than any initative I enumerated above or adjacently related. There's a lot of heavy lifting being done by "a useful reminder".
I mean, you or I don't need reminders, that's what the article is about. As for the rest of the tech industry, its a crapshoot to even suggest even half would be moved by changing the name of the branch nevermind possibly not caring at all about the greater issue for whatever reason.
The FTA is about continuous action that requires investment, you're applauding cheap, low-effort PR moves. This country, and you and I, deserve better than what amounts to yet another TikTok affirmation, and it's difficult to discern tangible value for actual Black people that someone somewhere thought to themselves as they typed 'git checkout main', "Ah, yes, let me reconsider the web of power-relations I'm enmeshed in".
> So, next time you are annoyed that you have to fix a script or you accidentally type master when you needed to type main, please just take a deep breath, change the name, and remember to reflect upon whether you have are subconscious habits or biases that work against diversity in tech.
There is no amount of reflection that is ever going to substitute the actual presence of Black folk in the tech workforce, and thinking we'll over come this waiting on some kind of ethical consensus that eventually leads to a beneficial outcome is not reflected by history, see Civil Rights legislation.
Suggesting you're surreptisously altering behavior via minor language changes is just "spooky action at a distance" come alive. It lends the sense that someone is "effecting" outcomes without actually having to be accountable for actual outcomes occuring.
The "postmodernists" (in quotes cause it tells you nothing, more accurate would be to call them postmarxist) developed something resembling this (predominantly American) language theory, though much broader in scope, looking at documents from the 19th, 18th, and early 20th century when there was a small elite regulating knowledge, language, and education. (the official language academies of France, Spain, early communities of biologists, crimonologists etc). Those conditions simply aren't the case today precisely owing to mass communication.
All this that is accomplished by this (IMO as a former philosophy academic) complete bastardization of so-called "postmodern" language theory is a new out/game for standing institutions to play. The FTA points out how Microsoft is changing the name of master with their right hand, but supplying facial recognition software to police to identify protesters and mistake Black folk for Gorillas with their left hand.
Changing the name of something or issuing a press release costs absolutely nothing. When you actually dig into the issue you find corporations have no problem with racist practices if changing them would be expensive or challenging. Running background checks on employees and not disclosing what they will discriminate on, acting like meritocracy is anything more than a fiction, the incredible bias towards hiring from places their friends worked at, etc. And most of big tech are falling over themselves to take contracts from oppressive governments and institutions.
I have to laugh a little when Amazon or Microsoft takes a stand against racism but does business in China, possibly one of the most racist, and human rights abusing government on Earth. Turns out the only thing these companies won’t discriminate against is cold hard cash.
Your comment reminded me of those email signatures that say something like, "Please think of the environment before you print this." Do they actually accomplish anything or do they just annoy people?
We need to weigh the real impact of actions against their potential annoyance. Because otherwise we're turning people off to the goals we're trying to achieve.
There was recently an environmental action in my city to stop traffic with a banner during a busy Sunday when lots of people were returning to the city. The activists did it because they wanted to get people to notice and care about the environment. The motorists were of course very annoyed and many of them posted on social media about this. Does annoying a bunch of motorists work towards saving the environment or just alienate people who could have been your allies?
There's a similar dynamic happening here.
A name was changed.
The change annoyed some people. Some people were not annoyed.
Nothing else happened.
Society needs to take a stronger position against virtue signaling type behavior that has a facade of benevolence while being ineffective. Doing something ineffective for the right reasons is worse than doing nothing at all: it wastes productive energy and will to act on those reasons.
On an individual level, I don't find it useful to get too worked up about name changes. Pronouns, names, whatever -- if someone's got a strong feeling I'll use what they want. You know why? (rhetorical HN you, not imbnwa in particular) Talk is cheap. Follow the money, though, the actual money, and supplying crappy facial recognition software that allows mass surveillance and leads to unsupportable arrest of innocent people is $$$. Selling a shitty "AI" program to screen resumes that uses a model that tells you a name like Jared is the best predictor for getting hired is $$$$. Perpetuating inequality through crappy AI/ML design is $$$$, and then noting that it exists and charging to "fix" it is $$$$$! As the beauty and pharma industries know, the best way to make money is to introduce a problem and then introduce a "cure" six months later.
Whoa, whoa, wait a minute there. I have mexican-indigenous blood running through my veins and coloring my skin and all I can say is this: no matter how much you've suffered, you don't get to minimize other people‘s suffering.
Implicit bias is made to be the boogeyman when it reality, it is probably a very a small fraction of the cause of "lack of diversity" in tech, if at all. Anyone who has attended computer science courses in college anytime would know the number of black students were little to none. It has always been a pipeline problem from the education side of things. To say that typing a word that so happens to have a relation to slavery caused a "lack of diversity" in tech is the biggest farce in this industry and it is extremely sad to see this line parroted by many in the industry. I expect to be heavily downvoted and even flagged for "wrongthink" but I think it tells a lot about how irrational and unhealthy our state of discourse is in today's world.
I find statements like these to be well meaning straight from the pulpit of a culture that finds cancellation or edits prefferable to new and better.
It's decline. Regression. It's looking at the present solely through the eyes of the past and a refusal to look an inch forward.
A word won't change the state. It's meta. The nub of the issue is that a black kid who might have an interest in computing has access to one, does he have that as a choice, and can anyone help or nudge him towards an academic pursuit in computing. That's where the work is.
Yes, a habit, but nothing that has to do with race or racism. So, is it a habit worth, or needing of being broken? What was bad about this habit? How does using it in a non-racial context aide in perpetuating racism?
Masters degree. Master recording. Master Chief. Master at Arms. Like Git, none of these things has anything to do with a master/slave paradigm, or even have a "slave" counterpart. There is no slave in git...there is clone and branch. There is no slave in audio recordings, you make a duplicate or copy of the master. Language is complex and nuanced. Not every word used in a race context has to do with the same word being used in another context, unless we make it so. There's nothing consciously or subconsciously racist about saying you have a masters degree, assuming you do. There are many definitions for master. Only one of them deals with the disgusting practice of a person being owned as property, ie slavery, and it's not even the top definition. Should we just get rid of all of the other definitions of the word entirely because one of the definitions has some very disgusting history in the US, and historically the world at large going back thousands of years?
For the record, I'm white. My ancestors were serfs, ie slaves, in Europe. Unless you're of a royal bloodline that wasn't conquered by another royal bloodline, chances are everyone has a connection to relatives that were enslaved by someone, somewhere, at some point in time.
Now, I can agree we should get rid of master-slavery terminology. That is blatant, imho. But "master" on its own when there is no "slave" component unless we make one up in our heads? If we follow that logic, there are a LOT of words that we should get rid of, including the word "black" to describe a color. There are a lot of racists who also use that word in a negative context to spread their racism. Where will it end? Where is the line? How much thinner should we make the dictionary so that no one is offended or subconsciously reminded of something that didn't actually have to do with the subject at hand? And after we do that, will there be newly found things that people will get offended at? Count on it.
This is the entire point, this sentence right here.
You cannot argue using reason that there is no racism to fight, because he has decided that there is, there must be.
So to the anti-racist whatever action they do is perceived meaningful, even when completely absurd.
It’s clearly a new kind of piety, a new kind if religion.
So if that's the point, then it shows that we shouldn't be doing this.
Could you please give me specific examples of what biases I, a software developer, may have? I like to think that I have always treated people with respect, judging them only by the character of their work and interactions with me, as opposed to stereotypes based on characteristics outside of their control. Perhaps I am wrong, but reflecting did not help maybe because I have had found no luck finding a thorough, rational source to educate myself on these issues that doesn't just echo meaningless politically or emotionally loaded statements. I am thus genuinely interested to hear from someone like you who is directly affected by these issues.
Related to this conversation: years ago Nikon removed the terminology of Master and Slave in their flash units in favor of Commander and Remote.
To the author: We have to start somewhere and it is a sign of progress (no matter how small) that finally there is some awareness around this issue and now something is being done about it
The reason master branches are called master branches is as an analogy to a music/record "master", which means "the original, the truest, the canonical".
(In an analog world where every copy necessitated deterioration, there was a need to say "this is THE version").
So git master branches meant the same thing: canonical. That's why the name "makes sense" even though there are no slave branches.
Just adding this here out of a sense of duty for historical accuracy, and not commenting on the name change itself.
The point is that the word master, in this context, has a different etymology that the word master in say, a database. Now, that might not matter: if you care about changing the name of the branch you probably care about the way the name makes people feel, not the etymology of the word, and perhaps that's a good argument (personally I don't know and don't really care). Nonetheless, the etymology of the word is a factual statement, so I was correcting a poster who was assuming it was an analogy to a different context.
I don't have a horse in this race, I just wanted to point out that the language is far more flexible than some people seem to think.
I’m actually wondering if I should create a tongue-in-cheek movement to renaming this term across studios. It’s incredibly ingrained.
Are you sure about this? It seems the music industry is going through a parallel exercise. I'm not familiar with music industry terminology really, but it seems those who are disagree with you:
"Following that thread, [Pharrell] Williams suggested that the company “get ahead of this and do the right thing. Start with the terminology — like ‘master’ and ‘slave.’ Master being the main recording and the slave being all the copies made.”
Williams recalls hearing the loaded words “master” and “slave” paired in such a manner as a teen, when learning the ropes of the music business from R&B star Teddy Riley in Virginia Beach, Va. As his career took off, Williams spotted the terms woven into many of his contracts."
Google Ngrams/Book Search seems to validate this, too. I could find no results related to the recording industry that used master/slave terminology.
I'd personally be leery of accepting sources post-2020, due to the confidence with which people can recall false memories.
"The word master has two meanings:
1. The original recording made in the studio is called a master, because it is the master (meaning controlling entity) from which all copies are made (the machines making the copies are called slaves—master/slave; get it?).
2. The word master also means a recording of one particular song. Thus, you might say an album has “ten masters” (meaning ten selections) on it. These individual recordings are also called cuts, because of the historical fact that each selection was “cut” into vinyl."
You originally said:
"This terminology was incorporated into software, back in the CD-ROM days, with their "gold master" from which copies would be produced."
So it appears you are referencing the first usage of the term master, which this industry insider explained in 1991 (a pre 2020 source) had a direct master/slave relationship to the copies, and the terminology was used knowingly to refer to a more conventional understanding of a master/slave relationship between humans.
This master/slave relationship between recordings seems to have been used in other contexts in the industry, showing its usage was widespread.
Here is a retailer explaining in 1998 what a "slave" reel is (in contrast to a "master" reel): "Historically refers to a reel of multitrack tape upon which there is a submix of the tracks from a “master reel” to record overdubs against. The purpose of slave reels is to more easily provide additional workspace (tracks) for creating multitrack recordings." https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/slave-reel/
Here is a machine from 2002 called a digital loop bin that duplicates "slave" tapes from a master: https://web.archive.org/web/20030318000601/http://www.optica...
Here is an account from 2000 by someone who worked with the analog version of these machines in the 70s. He uses the terms "master" and "slave" throughout: https://web.archive.org/web/20101208122537/http://www.8track...
Here is a post in a large community of audio enthusiasts about a recording from the 80s labeled as a "safety" for a master and slave reel. If you search on this site you can see the words master and slave used in various contexts from master/slave recordings to master/slave sync relationships: https://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-much-gear-so-little-time/...
So to summarize we have:
- Accounts by several prominent artists of encountering master/slave terminology referring to recordings, both in common parlance and in contracts.
- A popular book (10 editions, 500k copies sold) written by a prominent recording industry lawyer, who would have been involved in writing contracts, that explicitly defines master recordings with respect to slave recordings. He even gives a wink/nudge to the common understanding of a master/slave relationship in human society.
- Various technologies that through the decades were advertised as having the capability to make "slave" recordings from "master" recordings.
- A community of audio enthusiasts who have incorporated master/slave terminology into their parlance.
Given this evidence, can you please explain to me whether you are still "fairly confident that master/slave terminology wasn't used by the recording industry"? What would it take to convince you otherwise?
Good Idea! I'm going to start a gofundme for a petition on change.org right now.
> What about chess?
Don't get me started about all the sexism (only one female character), classism (royalty vs pawn) and racism (black vs white) as well as animal abuse (war horses) in chess...
> My immediate reaction was, "this change is by white people for white people," where "white" means anyone who isn't black.
> My next reaction was, "they may be changing the name for the wrong reasons, but the change is brilliant."
This is exactly what I would expect from a person with a deeply ingrained racial identity.
Well, I have reflected upon that, and I came to conclusion that it is people who base their identity on 19th century pseudo-science on kool-aid who are wrong, not me.
And by all getting together and renaming our white/blacklists and master branches and slave devices, we're all agreeing that this is important.
And.... yeah, it's also a way to find the people who aren't willing to mildly inconvenience themselves in this pursuit. Yes, cranky posters like the OP are ALSO signaling with their refusal to go along. What they're telling the rest of us is that this racism stuff isn't something they want to care about.
And that's why we do this stuff.
I'm not sure this benefit of the doubt is merited. A lot of people participate in these shenanigans either performatively or because it gives them license to attack and feel good about it. Anecdotally, I've encountered far more people for whom the motivation is one of these two than I have for whom it's pure good intentions. Those few with genuine good intentions are usually also engaging in other good acts that actually matter and for which they don't get social credit for.
“The surest way to work up a crusade in favor of some good cause is to promise people they will have a chance of maltreating someone. To be able to destroy with good conscience, to be able to behave badly and call your bad behavior 'righteous indignation' — this is the height of psychological luxury, the most delicious of moral treats.”
― Aldous Huxley, Crome Yellow
Deliberately? No, of course not. But it's a good way to tell where people stand, nonetheless. And I can tell right now that you personally feel much more strongly about opposing woke excesses than you do about opposing genuine racial injustice. So the performative nonsense has done its job.
To you, it is a "genuine racial injustice".
To others, it is simply nothing of the sort.
Said another way, I also feel much more strongly about opposing woke excesses than I do about opposing genuine racial injustice--expressly since I very much support opposing racial injustices and do not find the master/main debate as a genuine racial injustice.
That's exactly what a purity test is.
If someones existing repo changed their own branch name then it was the decision of that repo owner.. not related to anything GitHub did - technically if you see what's happening, Github barely did anything for this change..
I don't really care; I fixed the scripts. The question was if there was any impact, and not if the impact was onerous.
I don't know that I'd call the change "brilliant", though – for anyone not already seeking to actively reflect on their own subconscious biases, this change will probably feel less like a welcome gentle reminder and more like someone trying to control how they think (which nobody likes).
At the time, the master->main switch felt completely pointless.
But I came to appreciate the courage needed to actually commit. It's a signal that people do care.
Issue is, most folk have no idea on how to meaningfully contribute towards a lack of representation.
Which sounds okay(1) if all I'm working on is a simple document. If I'm in the larger context of making a change in code because it's breaking something somewhere else, the cognitive overhead of switching gears from "technical mode" to "political mode" to "what the heck was I really doing again?" is costly.
(1) I had "great" but downgraded it to "okay" because literally no one is offended by this -- it's virtue signaling to make rich people feel like they look better.
After, I short while i am getting used to main. No issues, just occasionally type main instead of master and vice versa.
Further, i think i like main better. The name fits a bit better the purpose (in my flows) and it also shorter ;)
Specifically master and slave drives.
Wasn’t a common complaint and was treated with eye rolls. Maybe others had different experiences.
Last few years there has been a dramatic change in fringe groups becoming the masters of speech.
At least for those outside the Bay Area.
The word master doesn't occupy this space in my head and never has. I've associated this term primarily with teachers from a very early age. There's obviously the master-slave terminology in tech, but that really doesn't map to slavery in my head. This is probably because I'm from the British Isles which has a very different history in terms of slavery.
For me, I felt this change was really about the impact this term has for people who have been impacted by slavery having to continue to use these terms, which I thought many must felt comes across as, at best, insensitive.
Hence, I felt the cost of doing this seems reasonable. I mean, if we used the term holocaust for wiping a hard drive at some point people would probably have said - "err, yeah, no that's just a bad idea", because it would be offensive.
A google search on "git master" shows 446,000 results -- now to be revised?
A google search without the quotes shows 171,000,000 results.
This is not to mention all of the company-internal documentation, correspondence, etc. which now becomes subject to pressure/demand for revision.
Yes and so were the ancestors of every race on this planet at some point.
"So, next time you are annoyed that you have to fix a script or you accidentally type master when you needed to type main, please just take a deep breath, change the name, and remember to reflect upon whether you have are subconscious habits or biases that work against diversity in tech"
What exactly am I supposed to be reflecting on? I don't need useless word changes that cause issues at my job to do that. This sort of strange thinking that somehow language causes racism and not the other way around needs to stop. It lacks so much logic it's infuriating, especially for people in tech fields. Additionally, you're simplifying words to one specific meaning when in reality the word master gets used in a multitude of different contexts that don't have any relation to black slavery AT ALL.
How about we do something useful with our time instead of constantly looking for victim hood and racism where it doesn't exist? I guess I should be somewhat encouraged because the fact that people have the time to worry about which words might be offensive (or make things offensive that aren't) means they're doing pretty damn well. So well, in fact, that they don't actually have enough going on in their lives and are making problems where they don't exist. The massive con here though is that eventually if you tell enough people they're victims of a system and can't help themselves it'll eventually cause real societal harm.....
Great point! Everyone acts like history started in the 19th century. When you take a step back and learn about history on larger spans, it’s obvious that enslavement was common all over the globe. More people should learn that the world slave originates from the ethnic name “slav”, because Slavic people from central and eastern people were frequently enslaved by Moors, who come from the north of Africa.
“The massive con here though is that eventually if you tell enough people they're victims of a system and can't help themselves it'll eventually cause real societal harm.....”
Agreed, and I’m afraid we’ve already reached that point.
Nothing worth fighting for comes easy. Women's rights, racial rights, gay rights... It all had to be forced to happen, because it's much easier to maintain an unfair status quo than it is to convince millions of people that perhaps their world view is wrong and holding others back.
If anything, the protests should have been about police reform. Change qualified immunity, change police training to avoid inadvertent deaths. That's something that a lot of people could support because more than just Black people get harassed by cops.
Instead, everything from master bedrooms, to math, to western civilization itself has been called "white supremacist", "racist", and "problematic". It's diluted the ability for these movements to make real substantive progress and is creating growing animosity towards themselves.
How would you say the American Civil War fits into this picture? Most of the people fighting (and dying to fight) slavery were not slaves. Or when the British made slavery illegal in their Empire? Why choose that, in your model?
Thank you for your service.
I'd also argue they do put a burden on people, though not an unnecessary one, to reevaluate their thinking and world view. Rosa Parks didn't force a white person to give up their seat for her. But she, and others, did force white people to rethink what they took for granted as the status quo.
The point of the original comment was that renaming master to main served as a reminder for people. But movements in the past that you were referencing never served a goal of solely putting burdens on other people.
To use the standing example, it's like saying that Parks's goal was just to get arrested to burden people with the knowledge of inequality.
If you accept that racial privilege exists, and that it's causes are correctable, even in part, then raising awareness of those helps. This is doubly true if you think that stone of the causes are social cognitive biases, where awareness and mindfulness directly address the causes.
Now I'm firmly in the camp that this wasn't worth it. Even having this remotely associated with the real important change that BLM is pushing for really dilutes the message. We're talking about a name and not the real injustices that some people face everyday.
I really don't care about the name change in this case, the OP was mistaken, master record also has roots in a master slave[tape] relationship. So please, change it, just do it upstream and leave me the fuck out of your culture war.
A "master recording" is the immutable "official recording" and is the source from which all copies are made, but the "master" in this term comes from the historical use of a "mastering lathe" to create vinyl records. It's quite clear that a "master branch" in git is not like a master recording, because a master branch isn't immutable and moreover is the branch that changes get merged into.
Given that the "master" in historic VCS programs (like Bitkeeper) is explicitly based on master/slave terminology, that git deliberately picked the term to maintain continuity of context with other VCS systems, and that "master" is ultimately a inaccurate description of what a "master branch" actually is in the context of git, it absolutely should be changed to something less inflammatory, like "main" or "working" or "local."
While some VCS programs may have used master/slave (I think maybe CVS did?), BitKeeper did not.
The (likely) basis for the belief that BitKeeper use master/slave and git followed them, the GNOME mailing list post that reignited this discussion in 2019, was retracted the next year.
However, there remains considerable discussion over oppression, race, and politics. For you to shoehorn in your personal viewpoint here immediately ends the discussion and implies that your side is right, when that may not be the case.
Think about if we changed the names literally to “n-word” and “white whip”. You’d be just as disgusted as I am for the opposing side to claim empirical moral high ground and to force you to accept something that you don’t find to be a settled debate.
These changes to remove subconscious bias from our language are necessary. They are microaggressions which the average user doesn't even realize exist- but which do harms to some individuals in our society. This may be a minority group within our society- even a very small fraction of a percent- but removing biases which are perceived as harmful is one way that we as an organization demonstrate that we are being actively inclusive to all, instead of falling back on habits developed to favor, or carrying the embedded biases of, one social or cultural group.
I look at it like ADA requirements for language. If you have a curb a wheelchair user can't climb, that's a harm to that individual- and so we require actions, by law, to ensure that wheelchair users are accommodated in our society. 30 years ago the similar complaints were made against ADA ramps, handicap-accessible restrooms, etc.- that they weren't really necessary because the minority who were being hurt by their absence were such a minority, and weren't really the target served population of the organization, etc. That was anti-inclusivity- and so we passed the ADA and support accessibility for all in our organizations- and nobody these days chafes at it at all, for the most part.
Removing harms from how organizations execute their business operations is part of inclusivity. It's not cargo culting, it's not engaging in a self-pleasuring but pointless behavior, it's not a meaningless act that carries no value- it's ensuring that our organization does as little harm to folks as possible as we move forward doing business in the world.
> Removing harms from how organizations execute their business operations is part of inclusivity. It's not cargo culting, it's not engaging in a self-pleasuring but pointless behavior, it's not a meaningless act that carries no value- it's ensuring that our organization does as little harm to folks as possible as we move forward doing business in the world.
Serious question - What harm are you removing here?
Let me ask again - Who is being harmed, how is this helping them?
Because to me... I see a giant company (MSFT) using political theatre as advertising.
Worse, as a developer in one of the areas that's actually fairly racially diverse (South Atlanta) I sure as fuck don't see any of my black co-workers doing anything other than roll their eyes at this.
This was a change engineered by white people, to appeal to white people's current sense of morality, so that a large company can continue its practices of fucking minority and non-white folks over, and yet here you are congratulating them on wasting billions of dollars on it.
Changes to language like removing the term master are absurd and performative. You have jumped onto a movement that is operating like a religion. Telltale signs are capitalization of certain words that aren't normally capitalized, and making a big deal about certain interchangeable words.
Growing up as an evangelical Christian I was not allowed to say the word lucky and was insisted that I would say blessed instead. The people who were a minority of my church that made a big deal this did so for personal gain in the social hierarchy.
You can sit here and moan all day long about stupid theories that came out of disciplines in universities where the practitioners are universally illiterate in statistics.
At the end of the day the entire theory is rooted around essays and very very shaky implicit bias science where the test which I have taken several times are not reproducible for a single individual. Depending on the day I take an implicit bias test I am either anti-black or anti-white.
Naturally there's no implicit bias test that has other races featured because these all came from US universities who have a myopic view on race driven by politics and title 9.
Enjoy your silly religion. The rest of us are going to set about building a better world for everyone while you ride along on the technical progress and its fruits.
Interestingly, this new convention is superior to the old in several ways, including one you might call scientific: it has two less keystrokes! I can only assume Jef Raskin would heartily approve.
They were totally cool about it, and I was left to my own free will to choose which word to use..... oh wait, no, they were aggressive and coercive, because that's what moralistic narcissists do. Shamers are gonna shame.
It's funny how few people who are actually substantive contributors are vocal about this. It's all these peripheral people with minimal accomplishments, just like at my church. The bus driver was the biggest moralistic enforcer I've ever seen.
Umm, no, they were pressured into it. That also means the reason they're doing it is pressure, not liking it.
> and it's gained traction.
It didn't "gain" traction. It was forced on people by various means of pressure.
"They": who do you mean by this? Do you mean every group of engineers who has made the change? Just GitHub? The Software Conservancy?
"Not liking it": I suppose you have evidence that these changes were generally unsatisfactory to the people making them? And not, say, you projecting your own anger upon them?
"Pressure": You seem by this to posit that conventions ought not to act by pressure at all, which is a really weird way to imagine how the world works. How could a convention, or a change in convention, _not_ generate pressure?
"Forcing": You seem determined to strip engineers of their own agency, but this is silly. Only defaults have changed. Master branches still abound, and renaming within Git itself remains a relatively trivial matter.
"Gain traction": You have not been paying attention if you think this terminology shift was a sudden change made all at once from the top down. I've been in debates about master/slave terminology in CS (and specifically Git) going back to Ferguson, maybe even longer.
I get that you like your old branch name and you don't want the hassle of changing it, but all this talk of "pressure" and "forcing" by nameless adversaries is quite unnecessary to get that point across.
Because I happen to be friends with the ones we did have since we were all on the team together I happened to know that they all thought it was stupid. Every single black engineer at my former company thought the master slave terminology was not a big deal and resented the performative nature of people like yourself who clamored to get it changed.
They found it very embarrassing, and patronizing.
Not that anyone in the leadership ranks cared what they thought. They were too busy performing for the masses clamoring to capitalize on a social media trend and the moral panic propelled by activist idiots.
Not a single one of these people would ever think for a second to invite a person to dinner who had been convicted a few years earlier of holding a pregnant woman at gunpoint after invading her home. Especially if that person was white.
Suddenly they all cared in a change that happened overnight. That's great that you were pushing for these things with Ferguson but I grew up in a mostly black community and I dealt with this my whole life rather than jumping on a bandwagon like you did.
The prescribed philosophies and practices don't help the situation they just make it worse and you would know that if you had grown up in a black community like I did. You didn't so you don't.
I know a hell of a lot more about race relations than people of any color who grew up in predominantly white suburbs. I got the s** kicked out of me in the early '90s in middle school after they did a screening of Malcolm x. I actually loved the film but several boys decided it was a great occasion to beat the s** out of a white kid in response to the racism they witnessed in the film. Those are the kinds of experiences that teach you that often times you are further dividing people rather than uniting them. None of you wokies get that.
White racism created a lot of cultural conditions in places like Ferguson. Those cultural conditions continue to perpetuate themselves in the absence of the racism that first spun them into existence. Your ideology ignores this and acts like the forces that spun those things into existence are still prominent. In a nation that elected a black president. It's nonsensical and opinion polls show this.
A bunch of activist wanted more money and more prestige at the universities that employ them and they're getting it. Congratulations your side one and the country is worse off because of it.
The recent batch of radical identitarians on the left make their ideology into a religion, make that religion into their identity, and react accordingly.
They are slightly different approaches that reach the same end: Intolerant, miserable human beings who can't help but contaminate every social interaction with intolerance.
Just so I'm understanding this point of view correctly, every time I or any other dev types git checkout master, a micro-aggression is taking place and someone somewhere is indirectly suffering?
I just can't take that line of thinking seriously, I'm sorry.
On the other hand, I guess the "habit" thing might hold _some_ credibility, but it's not probably not going to be as effective as they think. They say it roughly takes 40 days to make a habit, so in the most optimistically woke scenario, this person will be hyper aware about the branch name for about 40 days, after that they'll stop noticing it.
: I can also never tell if these people are trolling or genuine.
: I'm not really an expert on habits, so maybe my analysis makes no sense.
During onboarding you learn "git checkout master". You type those words everyday for six months, never thinking twice. Your confidence has grown over those months and you begin to feel like you belong here. But there's one coworker, Brad, who just doesn't seem to like you. Or maybe that's just his personality. But Brad just never seems to have anything nice to say. His code reviews are abrasive, though they don't rise to the level of bullying. Maybe that's just how he is.
This morning Brad picked apart a commit you were particularly proud of. Code you thought was rather clever, he tore into as overcomplicated and premature optimization. Okay, fine maybe he was right, but he didn't have to be rude about it. You feel like maybe Brad just doesn't like you. What did you ever do to him? Is it because you're black? No, you don't have any real evidence for that. "But...maybe?" a small voice whispers in the back of your mind. Unfortunately you can't look to how other black developers are treated by Brad. There aren't any.
You get some fresh air to clear your mind before sitting at your desk to make those changes Brad suggested. "git checkout master". Typing those words, you notice for the first time that "master" is a word with other connotations. Really, they had to choose that word? I mean, it would be a silly thing to complain about aloud.
Nevertheless, for months, every time you type that word part of you thinks "Really?" It doesn't upset you, exactly, but it reinforces a sense that this workplace is--hostile is too strong of a word--but not welcoming to black people. Maliciously indifferent. The kind of indifference that sees an enormous racial disparity and shrugs.
It's called a micro-aggression for a reason. It's a small thing. But small things add up. And it's an easy fix, so why not?
I'm not black, but i worked with Brad before. Years later, I realize Brad was largely right, although a bit of a dickhead with an attitude, but I learned not to be emotionally attached to my code and not think everyone has a beef with me.
We are teaching people how to be a bunch of cry babies with all this microaggression nonsense and safe spaces. People need to have a thicker skin, not everyone who disagrees with you or doesn't treat you right has something against you, they sure as hell have reasons for it, not an excuse, but reasons.
Checkout Ego Is The Enemy, a light/easy read book, but it introduces you to what I'm saying a little deeper.
I am going to go out on a limb and say 99% of people have had their ancestors enslaved. Is having an ancestor enslaved 150 years ago different than somebody who had their ancestors enslaved 200 or 300 years ago? If you, your parents, quite possibly even your grand parents never even met the slave in your family then it is irrelevant.
I guess I don't think where our ancestors came from is very important. I only know where my ancestors lived about 200 years ago and it is just general areas not any specifics. I don't know anything more than that. This is quite possibly about the same amount of years as many blacks whose ancestors came over during the slave trade.
I mean, the mere fact that you can trace your lineage back that far is indicative of the difference. Many people find their identity through their culture, and often times that perspective is gained by tracing their origins back generations. The foods you eat, the customs you share with your family, even your name.
Some people can trace their lineage back through dozens of generations. Other people can't see past a few levels up the family tree because their history was destroyed by a more recent slaver society. For some people, the traditions in their family are the traditions of their enslaved ancestors. The songs they sing were sung on the fields their ancestors were forced to work. The names in their family are the names forced upon them by their oppressors. Their family cook book contains recipes their enslaved ancestors used to make the scraps they were thrown palatable. Theirs is not an organic culture, but one that formed out of necessity due to the conditions forced on them by slavers (relatively) recently. So yes, I think it does matter that even if a person has never met a slave themselves, they can still feel the reverberations of slavery quite strongly.
More importantly, I can ask around in my family and find out family health history, how long people lived; I know where they came from and can find relatives. My African-American friends cannot all do the same. For some, their known family history only goes back to the last slave sale. They don't know where their ancestors came from in Africa. They have limited knowledge of family health history, compared to what I know. I know the language my great-great-great grandparents spoke; they don't. I can do research on historical foods from my area; they can't. With the advent of modern genetics, some can figure out some of that (look, maybe I'm Igbo, let me go to Wikipedia and look that up....) but it's quite different than being able to ask your aunt to set you up on a tour of where your ancestors lived in the 1700s and her being able to just look on her desk for those files.
My country was destroyed by Nazis, milions of my country citizens died cuz of it and it was less than century ago.
I'm working fine with german companies / people just fine as I'd work with other country based companies, no bias.
Time to move on.
I guess other people could be pissed off, but I think "concentration camp" is nowhere even close to "master"
maybe "camp"/"bootcamp" is close to "master", but then I don't think people would be annoyed over it.
"We're sending people to a week long bootcamp", just pretty normal and neutral statement.
equivalent of "concentration camp" would be "we'd want you to work as our slave" in job description sent to black person.
The micro-aggression, as I understand it, is having to ask yourself whether the term ‘master’ _did_ originate from slavery (in the context of git, IIRC it didn’t, but master-slave replication is the stronger example). The context and plan fact is that programming, as a broad culture, to date, _has_ been excluding Black people and others. So it is not hard to imagine some folks desiring to make a symbolic change to make the culture more inclusive.
I don't believe it was the technical terminology that caused unwelcoming conditions, but the people in the industry.
And, of course technical terminology _alone_ is not the issue! Totally agree that there is more to be done. I just find it amusing that there is so much pushback on this particular aspect (the naming of the branch). Clearly it is a concern, and it is on the whole a small thing to change. Larger systemic change is of course more ideal, but sometimes the battle starts at the symbolic level and expands from there.
> I just find it amusing that there is so much pushback on this particular aspect
I think push back comes not from attachment to "master" but from the emotions the virtue-signalling crowd causes in people who desire real change. The virtue-signallers are like the kid on a school project who did virtually nothing, and then tried to claimed all the credit once the project was done. It's a bit "hashtag-contribution," but ironically. It awakes a sense of righteousness in people (whether it's misguided or not is another topic) that think this is stupid, useless, and some probably think it's harmful because it pacifies a large group of people with thinking change happened, when it didn't. It's a bit like seeing a broken website, then changing the button colour and calling the website fixed and being done with it.
However, it's like you said, people aren't monoliths. Various people have trigger words. Some people get triggered by "moist," someone in another comment mentioned Jews have the right to be offended by the word "concentration" or the word "camp" (yes, even if it's out of context; master in the case of git is also very out of context to slavery).
I don't think changing the world for the sake of individuals is possible/scalable, but what we should do is try and accommodate them. I'm all for making people included and accommodating them, to a degree in which it doesn't make me feel uncomfortable in; I want to be given the same courtesy.
It feels like Alex from the blog post waited for the world to change, instead of being the change he wants to see. Waiting for the world to change is futile, you can only influence your environment to a degree, and if that doesn't work look for a better one that suits you better. I don't know if Alex did that or not, but it reads as if he was passive until now. I guess better late than never.
> Larger systemic change is of course more ideal, but sometimes the battle starts at the symbolic level and expands from there.
I fully agree with you on this, which is where my cognitive dissonance kicks in. I guess part of the reason is that, even though I agree symbolic changes are good, I don't feel that this was even symbolic enough. A better symbolic change in my mind would be for Github to announce a paid apprenticeship program for people without a STEM/CS background, and try to also somehow cover more black communities. I don't know how this would be executed, or if it even can be executed, so maybe it's not a well thought-out idea.
: Maybe engage/market more proactively at schools/communities where the majority of the students/people are black?
Edit: This comment describes the issue more eloquently and succinctly than I could! https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26492686
Should all uses of the word "master" be changed? Is the main character of the Halo games a microaggression? Metallica's "Master of Puppets"? Is "master bedroom" a microaggression?
Like the author said, it just feels like a meaningless gesture so people can feel better about themselves without fixing any real issues.
It's apparently an indirect reference, because its taken from the master/slave usage in BitKeeper, even though there is no slave on the git context.
In any case, “main” is simply descriptive rather than either a not very apt metaphor or an out-of-context reference to another (also not very descriptive) metaphor, so it's an improvement independently of whether “master” had social problems on top of it's descriptive ones.
`main` is just as bad as `master` but for a part of the world which is not domestic US.
Plus... you do know there's this thing called "Masters" degree, right?
> As harmless as the word “main” seems in most Western cultures, a comment posted by Mike Schroder (original Japanese text by Takayuki Miyoshi and translation by Shinichi Nishikawa) pointed out that it was problematic in Japanese culture. “In Japan, for example, to put ‘main’ and ‘others’ as different groups has been utilized as an excuse to justify discrimination,” said Miyoshi. “Not caring about suppressing the Ainu people and their culture at all is possible because of the assumption that Yamato folk is the main and others are secondary. I now came to a point to think we should consider that to set one thing as ‘main’ creates marginals that get oppressed.”
I didnt know that, though it does not sound as bad?
maybe thats my own cultural bias speaking?
So... just like "master"?
Your subconscious bias of being an oppressor is showing. You are pushing your views onto others. This is what some slave owners tried to do. Maybe you should check your privilege and stop engaging in microaggressions before accusing everybody else of doing the same.
Please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and stick to the rules when posting here.
Edit: it unfortunately looks like your account has been using HN primarily for ideological battle, or is close to it. That's the line at which we ban an account, for reasons explained here: https://hn.algolia.com/?sort=byDate&dateRange=all&type=comme.... I don't want to ban you, so please stop doing this.