The tiny lion and the mighty mouse

I am fascinated by computer language. I do not mean programming language, but simple words that have acquired powerful connotations with the turn of the century.Words that bring to mind what every English teacher in my school career emphasized: Simple is powerful.

I am talking about words like "Net" and "Web." Small, simple words that have become indispensable to tiny tots in kindergarten and tycoons in boardrooms.Words that have imprinted themselves permanently on the globe and will outlive us for centuries.

Similarly, I have observed that "mouse" and "server" are names for two controlling and powerful devices.Was this a deliberate attempt to shun the majestic - the lion and the monarch?Would it not have been more fitting to use the mighty lion instead of the innocuous mouse to control our computer systems?Likewise, I would have imagined that the powerful monarch, rather than the lowly server, would have been the dictatorial force behind all those networks.

What was the thought process that contributed to the naming of these high-tech toys with their paradoxical nuances?Did the person or persons who labeled them have a penchant for the oxymoron?Perhaps they were inspired by a biblical message, "The humble shalt be exalted."Or, was it the influence of that fable by Aesop, "The Lion and the Mouse," in which the mighty lion is rescued from the hunter's net by a seemingly insignificant mouse.Two little words, mouse and Net, in a legend bequeathed to us by generations before, have attained a new brand of immortality. I wonder whether Net and Web were conceived by simply observing the efficacy of a fisherman's net on a trip to the coast one summer's day or by watching a spider's web while sipping drinks in the backyard.

In all likelihood, none of the above suppositions were remotely responsible for associating the simple with the sophisticated ranks of high-tech jargon.

Regardless of how these simple words came to represent complex operations, this new genre reinforces in me a powerful message: Never underrate the simple.

Maureen Tucker Prasad writes articles, poetry, fiction, and children's literature.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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