My mother would phone me, and she would start conversations by saying “my computer did” and I would gently (or not so gently, perhaps) point out that computers only do what you tell them to do. Software has no agency.
Now, I grant you, some times you wish a box would come up, and in very plain English it would say to you “I am about to delete your entire file. I realize that may not be what you wanted me to do, so why don’t you go and have a cup of tea and think about this very carefully. I’ll be here when you get back.”
All of this is a long winded way of saying that I was doing some tinkering with ARIS the other night. It’s the sort of tinkering that I am very capable of doing, although I don’t do it that often. It just wasn’t working. I was working through the steps. I could see where it should work, and I could see where it patently wasn’t working. There was something missing.
I was looking at my watch, and I was wondering if it was too late to call Sys Admin at home and howl for a bit. (It was.) I wanted to blame ARIS badly. I itched to blame it. I was swearing. Howling. Mr. Spit came in and I carefully showed him what I was trying to accomplish, walking him through the steps. He humoured me by watching something that made no sense. He observed “there’s a lot to that program, isn’t there?”.
I was incoherent. I wanted to blame ARIS. It’s just that voice in my head that said “software has no agency”. I wanted to blame the program, but I knew, in a sick and certain sort of way that I was the squishy human bit and it was the immutable and logical software, and chances were excellent really that the squishy bit was buggering something up.
Anyway. I walked away for a few moments, and then I came back and realized what I was doing and why it wasn’t working.
I’m sorry for the things I said about your mother. I’m sure she’s a nice woman, really. I’m regretful about what I hoped would happen to your lines of code and I’m sure no one would actually want to light strings of zero’s and one’s on fire with a vat of kerosene. I didn’t actually plan on torching the server you are installed on, and my threats to rename you “bloody stupid ARIS that doesn’t <bleep> work” and get t-shirts were a bit overblown.