The Null Device

When Steven Feuerstein wrote a book on Oracle PL/SQL for O'Reilly, he eschewed the traditional business-centric examples (employee databases, inventories, &c.), in favour of more political examples. One example was a database of war criminals, which included Henry Kissinger; others were about things such as police brutality, union-busting and the prison industry. Not surprisingly, this caused quite a controversy. In this essay, Feuerstein talks about the saga, and the implicit pro-status-quo agenda of technical books.

(I'm somewhat ambivalent on this. On one hand, Feuerstein may have a point about the implicit ideology of computer texts. On the other hand, the ideology (if one calls it that) of an inventory database example is a lot less confrontational and abrasive in the context of a computer textbook than a list of war criminals. Do contentious politics really belong in the text of a textbook? What if a religious fundamentalist author was to publish a SQL textbook using, say, a hitlist of abortion clinic workers as the example? And I'm not sure I buy the dogma that everything is political, if not overtly so then in an insidious reactionary sense; it has too much of a whiff of fanaticism about it.)

(via rebecca's pocket)

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