Error States
1 min read

Error States

A blog exploring how public digital infrastructure breaks.
Error States

An Exploration of How Things Break

Why study broken things?

Or things that go wrong? That aren't working correctly?

Because all things go wrong. All things break. All things error. As someone once said, 'there are an infinite number of ways for something to go wrong, and only one way for them to go right". Someone also said: "learn from others' mistakes".

And in today’s increasingly complex, algorithmic world, full of emergent bugs and unforeseen interactions, the likelihood of something breaking is likelier than not. Sometimes the bugs will be harmless. Sometimes the errors funny or unintentionally ironic. Other times they will be frustrating, disappointing, unsolvable, revealing, problematic. Sometimes the errors will be dangerous and life threatening.

As more of our public spaces are digitized and as we transition towards being more reliant on complex and distributed systems, we have to plan for the inevitable error states and make sure to deal with them, gracefully.

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