People are the Key in Technology


In an article in the Atlantic Monthly called Homeland Insecurity, Charles Mann quotes Bruce Schneier thusly:

"The trick is to remember that technology can't save you," Schneier says. "We know this in our own lives. We realize that there's no magic anti-burglary dust we can sprinkle on our cars to prevent them from being stolen. We know that car alarms don't offer much protection. The Club at best makes burglars steal the car next to you. For real safety we park on nice streets where people notice if somebody smashes the window. Or we park in garages, where somebody watches the car. In both cases people are the essential security element. You always build the system around people."

The article is a great read and offers numerous insights into the problem with most homeland security proposals, but I was struck by the strong and pervasive belief, expressed in the article, that technology won't solve these problems. 

That's a general theme and is applicable to things besides security.  For example, Information Technology Services has initiated a tiered support model for network and server operations that has at its heart the same principle: when it comes to delivering highly available service, people and processes are much more important than the technology.  At best the technology makes the job easier.  At worst, it makes it more difficult.