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Tech Life

The New Stack Context: Splunk Removes the Term ‘Whitelist’ from Its Software

Eric Sammer, Splunk distinguished engineer, discusses the company’s ongoing effort to remove language that perpetuates systemic racism and unconscious bias.
Jun 19th, 2020 12:45pm by
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Welcome to The New Stack Context, a podcast where we discuss the latest news and perspectives in the world of cloud native computing. For this week’s episode, we spoke with Eric Sammer, Splunk distinguished engineer, about the IT system monitoring company’s ongoing effort to rename its terminology to remove language that perpetuates systemic racism and unconscious bias in tech. Splunk brought together a working group of people from across the organization to develop additional recommendations, guidelines and procedures to identify and replace biased language and to prevent other instances from happening in the future. We also chatted with Sammer about what has happened since the company he co-founded, event-driven services monitoring provider Rocana, was acquired by Splunk in 2017.

TNS editorial and marketing director Libby Clark hosted this episode, alongside TNS senior editor Richard MacManus, and TNS managing editor Joab Jackson.

Episode 122: Splunk on Removing Exclusionary Language from its IT Systems

Happy Juneteenth! This day marks the day in 1865 that Black slaves in the U.S. learned that they were free. This year, thanks to the spirited Black Lives Matter protests, we are seeing IT companies recognize this date as an official work holiday. We are starting to see some other meaningful changes come about in the industry as well, thanks to BLM.

This week saw a number of IT companies recast some legacy IT terminology that has long carried potentially offensive connotations. GitHub, for instance, dropped “master” and “slave” for alternatives like “main/default/primary” and “secondary.” Also this week, Splunk, listening to advice from partners, is eliminating the terms “whitelist/blacklist” in favor of more neutral wording. So we spoke with Sammer to learn more about Splunk’s efforts.

“I come from a world where when somebody says, ‘Hey, this thing hurts me,’ then you just stop doing it,” Sammer said in the interview. “Language evolves, we learn, we grow as a society. There’s ingrained stuff that I think just makes sense to question and challenge and change.”

Later in the show, we discuss some of the top TNS stories and posts of the week, including:

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TNS owner Insight Partners is an investor in: The New Stack.
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