This is an example of the insight caught in this writing about identifying complexity in problems.
If you have ever had the problem of not being able to update your windows (and perhaps didn’t have a windows disk to re-install it) then you will understand what I mean when I bring up the frustration of looking up solutions to this problem online.
The internet is filled with other people having the same problem, and with tons of technicians offering solutions, but the discussions and solutions proposed are endless (and observably ineffective).
I had to face this while working on a family member’s computer that had this exact problem. Windows update got a few packages installed and then all of a sudden it started to hang. I let it run for hours, knowing it should only take minutes.
The browser was slow so I ran a spyware program (super-anti-spyware) and did find some malware but nothing serious. I try the update again…
I try a reboot, and a few starts and stops of the update process. No dice.
I look online and find a windows trouble shooter for the update process. Troubleshooter runs and when its finished it tells me to try again. Doesn’t work (awesome troubleshooter).
It’s been days by now, and I’m online looking at all these poor people in the same spot I am in, and these silly ass technicians offering solutions such as “Try this patch”.
I’m not “trying” a patch, especially not if its not from Microsoft, and certainly not on a family member’s computer.
The internet is slow and difficult to browse (with Mozilla which I refreshed) so I decide to run a speed test. Super slow to load, perhaps its cause the java is wanting to update and be installed as well.
So I can’t REALLY tell how healthy the internet connection is.
I reboot the modem and hardwire into it.
Doesn’t help and I’m in a closet under the stairs so I unplug and take the computer back upstairs.
I run a virus scan but I can’t be sure the computer would detect the virus anyway (scan comes back clean).
I give up. I’m down to obscure solutions from online and I’m basically just thinking about finding these people and yelling at them for being so ridiculous.
That’s when insight hit me. Those people offering the solutions ARE idiots. Or maybe they are smart but they are WHOLLY missing the problem. In other words, there is a complexity here that is not being observed.
It SEEMS simple enough, my windows update won’t install. So what is the solution? Well its clear that everyone is finding that there are many possibilities as to why windows update won’t install. The technicians are not sensitive to this point. Its a social point.
They would be better off to answer the question of “Why won’t my updates install” with “Because your computer is broken.”
And when the person with the problem says “I KNOW its broken, my windows won’t install, how do I fix that” the technician needs to re-iterate “No. You have to fix your computer FIRST, and THEN I’ll show you how to install your windows updates.
I knew this was a big point to make immediately, but of course I had to actually fix the computer and install the updates or how could I claim it to be?
It took some time, but I finally thought to myself, maybe the process is working to some degree but its not updating the graphical interface (ie its not displaying the % or how long until it is finished). But how could I know this, besides, I let it run for hours.
And still, maybe its not connecting with the internet properly. How could I tell?
Ah, the packets! I opened up the network connection properties for the wireless adapter. 30K or so from the last reboot (I reboot often when troubleshooting), but now its stopped. Hmmmm….
I reset the windows updates, nothing much changed.
I reset the wireless connection, and the packets start climbing. “Oh, sweet, go go go….no!!!”
Bah, but it went to 45k. I did it again. “Go go go go GO GO GO, NOOOO!!!”
30k. What is happening?
I keep doing this for 20 minutes, until I don’t really get a different result. Now what? Well going with my theory…maybe….
I hit the start button, “OH….MY….F$%KING GOD…..” It says ‘re-boot to install updates’.
I do, and they install. I’ll save the rest of the narration, ALL through the whole process for about 2 days, I had to do this. The computer would hang at all stages, and it would sometimes NOT TELL ME it needed to reboot.
I got it all the way to the last very small update that wouldn’t install and I sat for about 5 minutes before I tried to look it up and found a manual download (I actually downloaded the wrong one the first time and then realized it, man was I relived all of a sudden again).
So what happened?
I stopped looking for the solution to the problem I had defined (my windows updates won’t install), and started (re-)looking for the actual problem. This is a different approach to problem solving that has a significant social implication, it is also related to this conjecture on chronic pain and nerve problems.