In Wi-Fi They (Don’t Really) Trust

Sometimes, the biggest problem with the network is its very existence. Anytime something breaks, the fingers start pointing at the network. Database stopped responding? It must be the network. Client can’t access the Internet? Must be the network. Never mind that what the client can’t access is just their home page and everything else is working…

The problem isn’t so much that the network exists, but that it exists and most users, and even most IT pros, don’t understand it. Now we take that complex system that people already have a difficult time understanding and replace the simple Cat5 cable with… Magic? Arthur C. Clarke once wrote that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. For many people, wireless is a magical black box. Actually, it’s usually an opaque white box, but that’s beside the point. Things happen in it, but they can’t be seen and they are not easily understood. The explanations for how it works, or more likely why it doesn’t work, generally involve lots of vague hand waving motions and end with either blaming the client or the network, depending on which side you are on.

Now when something breaks and there’s nothing obviously wrong with the device people trust, it’s logical (from their perspective) to blame the thing they don’t understand. It’s known that it needs to be working for them to do what they want, so that must be what’s broken.

You can read the rest of my thoughts on this on the Aruba Airheads Community.


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