Depending on the circles you travel in, you might be aware of the whole NoSQL “movement”. If not, I’m not going try and explain it at this time (explaining it is sort of the problem), but you can get the general idea from wikipedia.

I’ve spent the last couple of days at nosqleast and one of the hot topics here is the name “nosql”. Understandably, there are a lot of people who worry that the name is Bad, that it sends an inappropriate or inaccurate message. While I make no claims to the idea, I do have to accept some blame for what it is now being called. How’s that? Johan Oskarsson was organizing the first meetup and asked the question “What’s a good name?” on IRC; it was one of 3 or 4 suggestions that I spouted off in the span of like 45 seconds, without thinking.

My regret however isn’t about what the name says, it’s about what it doesn’t. When Johan originally had the idea for the first meetup, he seemed to be thinking Big Data and linearly scalable distributed systems, but the name is so vague that it opened the door to talk submissions for literally anything that stored data, and wasn’t an RDBMS.

I don’t have a problem with projects like Neo4J, Redis, CouchDB, MongoDB, etc, but the whole point of seeking alternatives is that you need to solve a problem that relational databases are a bad fit for. MongoDB and Voldemort for example set out to solve two very different problems and lumping them together under a single moniker isn’t very meaningful. This is why people are continually interpreting nosql to be anti-RDBMS, it’s the only rational conclusion when the only thing some of these projects share in common is that they are not relational databases.

The cat is out of the bag though, and the “movement” has enough momentum that I don’t think it’s going anywhere. And, I’m not really advocating that, it’s had the effect of bringing a lot of attention to some very interesting projects, and that’s a Good Thing. Maybe Emil Eifrem has the right idea by encouraging people to overload the term with Not Only SQL.