Just as a shark must swim to breathe, a hard drive must be in motion to receive or return data. This air bearing technology, as it is called (pioneered at IBM in the 1950s), explains why dust and other contaminants must be kept out of the drive casing at all costs. If the heads touch the surface of the drive while it is in motion the result is what is known as a head crash: the head, which it must be remembered is moving at speeds upward of one hundred miles per hour, will plow a furrow across the platter, and data is almost impossible to recover. Thus, a key aspect of the hard drive
‘smateriality as an agent of digital inscription is quite literally created out of thin air. —Matthew G. Kirschenbaum —An Excerpt from Mechanisms: Grammatology of the Hard Drive (MGK)
Kirshenbaum is publishing excerpts from his forthcoming book, which examines the hard drive as an inscription machine. Here’s part of a somewhat rambling comment I posted on his site:
I was at a zoo today and suddenly realized that the term “fledgling” has an orinthological origin — it’s not a metaphor to apply the term to birds. It’s amazing that I’ve been using that word for decades and it never occurred to me. Thanks for similarly making me understand the term “hard drive crash”.
A post on netwoman reads:
Dale Spender and Helen Fallon (1998) also assert that terminology such as ‘abort’, ‘chaining’, ‘thrashing’, ‘execute’, ‘head crash’, and ‘kill’ portray negative images of sex and violence to women, creating an uncomfortable and unfamiliar terrain. http://www.netwomen.ca/Blog/2003_09_01_archive.html#106427418616569858
I haven’t read the specific article referenced, but I wonder if your description of the technology of computers as a physical environment (on the micro level) would place the percieved violence of computer terminology into another context.