Taming Information Technology: Lessons from Studies of System Administrators (Human Technology Interaction)
Eser Kandogan, Paul Maglio, Eben Haber, John Bailey
Information technology is at the center of modern life. It supports most day-to-day activities: talking on the phone, getting money from an ATM, or working in the office. Whether for work, commerce, or fun, we interact with computers, networks, and databases -- all sorts of information technology. How does it work? Certainly, technological advances helped create this world. But what keeps it running? The answer is people. These people -- computer system administrators -- are the unsung heroes of the modern age. When we notice them, it is only because something went wrong. Small failures can become big problems, and big failures can make news headlines and cost lots of money. But most of the time, things go right, and system administrators are invisible. They work out of sight, down in the data-center, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. But how do they keep systems running? And more importantly, how can we help make them better at their jobs? To answer these questions, the authors of Taming Information Technology set out to study system administrators -- sysadmins, for short. They observed sysadmins in their natural environments, their offices, at the data center, or wherever they worked. The authors took notes, recorded video, interviewed, and, ultimately, put all these pieces together to try to understand what sysadmins do. This book, ten years in the making, is the result. It tells the story of system administration through the narratives of real system administrators. It documents dynamic systems of people and machines, of specialists working together to tame hugely complex information technology infrastructures, developing and adapting their own tools and practices over time to create productive work environments. The authors hope Taming Information Technology will lead the way to a future in which the important work of these IT workers is better appreciated, better understood, and better supported.
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