NoSQL isn’t a movement

Today there’s been a tweet going around that says:

@programmingjoy: Help pick a better name for NoSQL Movement at NoSQL East Conference #programming

This tweet really drives me nuts. In fact, I tweeted back:

@robotdeathsquad: NoSQL isn’t a movement, and when people say stuff like that, it makes them sound like idiots and I laugh at them.

So what’s so wrong with this tweet? It’s not the “NoSQL” part of it. I’m perfectly fine calling all the key/value, document oriented, and column centric DBs “NoSQL” as a short hand. That’s perfectly fine by me. My whole problem is with the “movement” part of this. Lets look at the definition of “movement”:

A group of people with a common ideology who try together to achieve certain general goals. (via

What exactly is a “NoSQL movement”? What is the common ideology? That you hate relational dbs? Hopefully that’s not it because that makes you sound like a child. Who hates software? Certainly not professionals. A professional doesn’t arbitrarily hate something, they apply the appropriate technique at the appropriate time.

What exactly is the goal of a NoSQL movement? To rid the world of SQL? Really? Really?

If it is to work together to build some great databases that perform much better in certain situations, then why not come up with a name that means that. I’m not sure that meets the definition of a “movement”.

Just as I mentioned in my post NoSQL: If only it were that easy, having new and different databases, which have new and different uses cases is great, but they are just one technique. Another tool in the shed, if you must. Trying to hype them, and elevate them some sort of “movement” status, is juvenile at best, and certainly misplaced.

  • Chris Williams

    You seem to think the “movement” aspect imbues hate against SQL and, in all honesty, I don’t see how you and others come to this conjecture. No one is running around with signs saying “HATE SQL” or “HATE SOFTWARE”, you are right that would be childish. For clarity, I have no idea how “movement” implies “hate” implies “hate software” all without anyone saying a word to that effect.

    My personal use of the word movement is as defined, a group of people with a common ideology; that ideology being the education professionals that there is more out there than just conventional databases. This is a part of a broader goal to educate people that the right tool for the right task is pragmatic and wise. All too often professionals fall prey to the trap of “ThingX” is the end all, be all and there is no other choice. Whats your perspective on the movement being less about hate and more about education?

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  • ‘NoSQL’ definitely lends itself to negative connotations, and it seems clear looking back through some of the original uses that such a meaning was loosely intended. Since then, the ‘movement’ has become a lot more grounded (depending on where you look). I’m sticking to referring to this realm of technologies as ‘NonSQL’ for the time being.