terminology

October 13, 2009

I was reading the fracas about things that were said at some conference and then various people’s replies about how to refer to groups so as not to offend others and I realized there is a bizarre parallel that my S.O. pointed out to  me years ago from the knitting community.

If you need to refer to the overwhelming group of people who are not computing-involved and/or not open-source/linux involved – then refer to them by their lack of knowledge of the arcane magic: they are muggles.

Muggles is gender neutral, it’s an accurate representation, I’d say, based on the usage from harry potter books and it is not obviously a pejorative (depending on how it is used, of course (then again I can make ‘beautiful’ into a pejorative if I say it properly)).

What do you think? Muggles? good word for the non-computing/non-linux majority?

“We want to make [fedora|linux] easy enough so it is possible for muggles to easily setup their printers.”

The knitting world seems to refer to non-knitters as muggles for the exact same reason – there is arcane magic that non-knitters do not know.

8 Responses to “terminology”

  1. Mace Moneta Says:

    On one hand, I like the idea of finding a term that people are comfortable with. On the other, I dislike the idea of masking open honest communication. People should grow up instead of making the world treat them like children.

    I’m old and have limited capacity for nonsense, so if my opinion offends anyone, get off my lawn. 🙂

  2. Tom "spot" Callaway Says:

    Geocachers also refer to regular folks who are not familiar with geocaching as “muggles”.

  3. Ron Weasley Says:

    That’s fine, as long as nobody uses “mud-bloods” to refer to people who use both Linux and Windows. Not only does it upset Hermione, it also promotes the fallacious “nature” argument in the Origins of Magical Ability debate. Everyone knows that the most powerful witches and wizards became powerful through hard work and the dedicated studying of manpages and API documentation.


  4. Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic!

  5. skvidal Says:

    sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from high technology. – pratchett’s corollary.

  6. Bill Says:

    But what do you then call people familiar with neither Linux nor Harry Potter?

  7. snerd Says:

    The SCA tend to use the term also.


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