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It’s easy to blame computers.

When i first read this story i knew that a “computer error” would be blamed. If a computer is involved somewhere, anywhere, even vaguely, in a story of embarrasment or tragedy it takes the wrap – the humans involved just being innocent bystanders to it all. Funny that, because anyone else causing mishap with the tool of their trade would find it quite difficult to blame said item. You’d never hear of a window-cleaner who smashes a window blaming the shammy leather. Or a lumberjack felling a tree that lands on someone’s house blaming the chainsaw. It’d never happen. Yet involve a computer, and the user goes blame-free.

Of course, i’m not saying i’d rather see the poor school secretary in the above story made publicly accountable for the tragic error in question (i’m not a Daily Mail reader). I’m sure the error was simple enough to be made in a lapse of concentration or maybe through inadequate training, so where’s the harm in admitting it was “human error” rather than perpetuating the idea that computers get things wrong sometimes? They don’t! Either the user did something wrong or there’s a bug in the software being used – in which case a programmer did something wrong.

Update: For anyone struggling to understand what i’m blabbering about, you might like to read this piece at The Register. It’s probably much better at saying what i’m trying say.