Technologies and Complexity

Eser Kandogan, Paul P. Maglio, Eben M. Haber and John Bailey

in Taming Information Technology

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780195374124
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979134 | DOI:

Series: Human Technology Interaction Series

Technologies and Complexity

Show Summary Details


This chapter examines technical complexity in more detail. First, the story of Dot examines the numerous steps and pitfalls involved in deploying a “simple” Web application in an enterprise environment, highlighting not only the complexity involved but also coping strategies used to integrate information from systems and other people. Second, the chapter describes a critical situation in which a large group of experts was brought together in a single room to solve an intermittent, unpredictable Web application failure. This team spent many weeks together, trying to understand the subtle interactions between system components, collecting and exchanging information and ideas, and reconfiguring different components. This story demonstrates the heights of technical complexity, in which a problem could be so subtle as to require months of effort to solve it. It also shows many techniques people use to understand such problems, and provides some evidence about why the human cost of IT management keeps increasing.

Keywords: common ground; crit-sit; critical situation; web application deployment; debugging; intermittent system failure

Chapter.  12059 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Engineering (General)

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.