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Systemic Failure and Morality

Tags system, management, CAD Standards, standards


Cadpilot.com underwent major changes in the last couple of months. It wasn't altogether voluntary as recent posts attest. For reasons unknown the front end of our telerik Sitefinity content management system (CMS) simply would not publish on our new hosting server.

System A simply wouldn't work with System B acceptably. Everyone is sympathetic and even apologetic. This is, course...

No Help at All

Oh there's probably nothing wrong with telerik's very good, but piggy code. There's probably nothing wrong with the hosting provider's state of the art server and hosting service either. In the end, we stayed with the hosting provider and changed our CMS.

Everyone involved suspects some strange, conflicting permissions issue, but resolving that in a practical matter proved impossible. Every server maintenance restart was a crap shoot. Sometimes is not acceptable.

“If it ain't broke, don't fix it.”

Most folks say this. Most folks do this for good reason – the human autopilot. That form of thinking can have nasty consequences when the system fails systemically. Yes, my turn of phrase sounds like an oxymoron, but it really isn't.

Systemic failure is much more common than you probably think. I could scare or bore you with a story or two (you know planes, trains, and automobiles), but I won't. Systems talking to other systems and responding is great. That is until the wheels come off and bounce off your head or worse bounce you on your head.

The Man in the Machine

Systemic failure isn't a technology problem either – its actually a human one. We've certainly come to believe technology causes more of it, but even a brief review of history says otherwise.

We all can tend foster the perception that systemic failure is a technology thing. I think its probably much easier for us to blame inanimate objects than it is to take responsibility and be become accountable to fix it.

Does that mean that systemic failure is a moral issue? Hmmmm?

Systemic Failure is a Moral Issue

Being human (or rather being humanists), we typically immediately advance these issues to the social and political level. I argue we should not. But we do and that is the crux of the issue. We probably want to dodge our personal responsibility of choice in these matters.

We believe (hope) some unknown agency is out there protecting us from this sort of thing. We maybe believe “bad” and “evil” people too often do this sort of thing on purpose. Agencies knowingly promulgate the illusion or is it a delusion? Truly wicked behavior isn't unknown, but is a lot rarer than we perceive it to be. Oops. Sorry I forgot that today wickedness is only relative.

Step Away from the Wall Put Down the Roller

My favorite real world example of this mad morality morass are the now mandatory child drowning labels on 5 gallon buckets. We need to think about that - seriously.

Let's see - it has become “good” to mandate the cost of a warning label because lawyers filed and won a class action suit because toddlers may accidentally fall into 5 gallon buckets and drown while their parents are painting a wall?

I'm personally a great fan of the Darwin Awards. They remind us of the consequences of our thoughtless action. Seriously, the world deserves a Social Darwin Award for lawyers, judges, legislators, and bureaucrats who perpetrate acts like the above.

So are you thinking about your CAD Standards and Management Skills? Of course you are.