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A network of pangolins

July 07 2023
David Crawshaw headshotCharlotte Brandhorst-Satzkorn
David Crawshaw & Charlotte Brandhorst-Satzkorn

Tailscale is named as such because we want to allow small, human-scale teams to build trusted networks easily — without having the complexity or long tail of software and operational problems, which don’t scale well to a small team. Tail. Scale.

Sure, sure, that’s a good vision1. Anyways, do you know there are a lot of things with either tails or scales? And a lot of them are animals!

Pangolins have both tails and scales, so they are obviously the unofficial mascot of Tailscale. (And not just any kind of tail or scale — a prehensile tail, and scales made of keratin!) We think pangolins are super cute. And they’re nocturnal, just like us!

You know how there are weird words for groups of animals, like a murder of crows, or a parliament of owls? There is no official collective noun for pangolins, because they’re solitary creatures.

Although Tailscale is a remote company, Tailscalars do occasionally meet up. We wanted a way to refer to our unofficial mascot. So, we’re proposing a collective noun for pangolins2: a network of pangolins3. Tell our Marketing team we’re going to have great SEO!

Small, trusted, human- mammalian-scale networks. Who says we have to innovate only in networking4 and can’t also innovate in the English language5?

1 Unlike pangolins, who have poor vision. But by reading this footnote you’ve skipped ahead to the animal reveal, oh no!

2 We can’t use vector, which is the collective noun for a group of Tailscalars — they’re pangolins not pangolines.

3 The other option was a cURL of pangolins, because they curl up! So cute.

4 See how NAT traversal works in Tailscale, or a look at MagicDNS behind the scenes.

5 At least, that’s what we learned in school.

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