Media still don't get it . . .

A new batch of "glitches"
© Conrad Weisert, Information Disciplines, Inc., July 9, 2015

This article may be circulated freely as long as the copyright notice is included.

Earlier articles about this problem

December, 2009Stop reporting "glitches"
August, 2004Are major software updates uncontrollable?

For the past decade we've been noting the strange practice of American media to label almost every failure in a publicly accessible Internet site a glitch. They imply that such failures are inevitable by-products of technology, and no one is to blame. Yesterday serious failures occured in the Internet sites of:

disrupting those organizations' routine operations. The prolonged United failure was particularly damaging, causing passengers around the world inconvenience and even, in some cases, serious hardship.

Watching television news reports in the evening I counted 22 occurrences of the word "glitch" in a single hour on ABC and PBS. This morning's Chicago Tribune used that word repeatedly in headlines. The public is expected to shrug those glitches off as just inevitable consequences of modern automation.

Wrong! Employees or contractors working for those organizations—and their managers—are very much to blame for these costly and inexcusable failures. And the media are also to blame for their careless reporting that misleads the non-technical public.

Speculation arose early that the coincidence of three major conspicuous Internet failures on the same day might have been caused by deliberate sabotage, possibly from a terrorist organization. Those fears were quickly put to rest. However, we should keep in mind that the same carelessness that leads to these accidental failures may also open the door to malicious attacks. Indeed, yesterday's publicity may already have attracted the attention of those who have both the skills and the desire to do severe harm.

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Last modified July 9, 2015