Why do we use the word "protocol"?

James McIninch james at gatech.edu
Tue Apr 25 08:14:02 EST 1995

Matt Rognlie (uvsmr at Msu.oscs.montana.edu) wrote:
: This has interested me for some time.  If you look up the word "protocol" in a
: good dictionary, it has nothing to do with "scientific procedures".  Why are we
: using this word, then?  Should we rewrite the dictionary or quit using it?

A protocol is an established procedure for conducting formal activity. In this
sense it can be used in the sense of diplomatic protocols, scientific protocol,
social protocol, and telecommunications protocols.

A diplomatic protocol is an established procedure for performing a diplomatic
function (i.e., making formal protests, proposing and ratifying treaties, etc.)

A scientific protocol is an established lab procedure (i.e., SDS-PAGE, etc.)

A social protocol tells you what is and what isn't appropriate dress and
activity at weddings and funerals for different cultures.

A telecommunications protocol is an established method for the exchange of
data packets across networks, etc.

The word is not specific to any particular context and the dictionary should
reflect this.

: Matthew Rognlie                  |
: Veterinary Molecular Biology     | uvsmr at trex.oscs.montana.edu
: Marsh Laboratories               | phone: 406-994-6379
: Montana State University         |   FAX: 406-994-4303
: Bozeman, MT  59717-0360          |

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