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Principia Mathematica, bad coding clown.

Principles of IT Incompetence

There are logical fundamental truths behind IT incompetence, both its causes and its effects.

Each principle/entry is a section of a long article so they are listed in that order. Within an entry you can go to the previous and next entry.

Figure of The Internet.

What Is IT?  Networking

Since Information Technology (IT) is really communication-of-information technology, IT is mostly computer networking. (Cyber is a prefix meaning IT, so for example, IT security is also known as cybersecurity.) "Computer" includes supercomputers, servers, desktops, laptops, tablets, phones (landlines and cells), TV, etc. There has been a "convergence" and all of these devices now communicate — their most important function — over the same network, the Internet; see figure. Thus, being an IT expert means being a networking expert. (For more see What is IT and What Makes Me an Expert?)

MIT logo, MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science logo, Columbia University logo, NASA GISS logo.

Who Am I To Talk About IT Incompetence?  Duane Thresher, Ph.D.

As will be shown, the most important IT credential (qualification) is a good IT education; see The Most Important IT Credential: An IT Education.

Among much other IT education — see my Credentials — I, Dr. Duane Thresher, have a B.S. from MIT in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and a Ph.D. from Columbia University and NASA in supercomputing. I am a real IT expert and can talk authoritatively about who is IT incompetent. (For more see What is IT and What Makes Me an Expert?)

[Data Breaches image].

Why Stop IT Incompetence?  Data Breaches

Although an IT expert myself, over the years I, including my family, have had horrendous experiences, particularly data breaches, as victims of IT incompetence by the government, business, media, etc.

And I was amazed by headlines of "the most massive data breach yet" being reported regularly in the news, right up to today.

And I was appalled to realize IT incompetence was severely threatening national security (see 9/11 Was Due to IT Incompetence).

Clown doctor, clown lawyer.

The Most Important IT Credential:  An IT Education

The most important IT credential (qualification) is a good IT education. Period.

An IT education means a BS or better (for higher positions) in computer science or electrical engineering — ideally both (see What Is IT? Networking) — from a good university.

I have seen IT officials, including a state Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) during a massive data breach, list as their only IT education, "was always interested in computers".

Default key, not equal, Einstein being silly sticking his tongue out.

No IT Education:  "The Defaults Work So I'm A Genius" Syndrome

"The Defaults Work So I'm A Genius" Syndrome is that computer defaults always work — or the product won't sell — so it seems to the user, and any IT incompetent watching her, that she must be a genius. This starts with IT incompetent adults being so amazed that children, often their own, can use computers that they hail these children as geniuses ("any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"), even though the software they are using was programmed, which includes defaults, so even children can use it, i.e. it's foolproof.

Girl with smart phone, chimp astronaut.

No IT Education:  "I Can Use A Smart Phone So I'm A Genius" Syndrome

Similar to the syndrome in No IT Education: "The Defaults Work So I'm A Genius" Syndrome is the "I Can Use A Smart Phone So I'm A Genius" Syndrome. Smart phones, like other computers, are programmed, including the defaults, so that any idiot can use them, i.e. they are foolproof; otherwise they would not sell.

This syndrome particularly applies to girls and women, who besides liking to talk more — so like smart phones more than any other type of computer — want everyone to believe they are inherently as technically adept as boys and men, so that they will be given IT jobs whether they are IT competent or not. See No IT Education: STEM and IT Hiring: Trading IT Competence for Diversity.

Cargo cult plane.

No IT Education:  Cargo Cult

As pointed out in No IT Education: "I Can Use A Smart Phone So I'm A Genius" Syndrome and No IT Education: "The Defaults Work So I'm A Genius" Syndrome, society, particularly IT, has become a "cargo cult", doing things because it has seen them done that way but not understanding why, which ultimately fails.

In World War II, the Americans, after the Japanese, occupied the previously rarely-visited Melanesian Islands. By plane, they delivered many supplies to the islands for the war effort, but these also greatly enriched the lives of the Melanesians. After the war, the Americans left and so did their supplies, returning the Melanesians sadly to their primitive lifestyle. Having seen the supplies being delivered by plane, the Melanesians thought if they built things that roughly looked like planes, the supplies, and their prosperity, would return. Of course, it did not work.

Flower killing stem maker, Susan Penfield.

No IT Education:  STEM

STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, which very much includes IT; in fact, it dominates STEM these days. STEM is supposedly a movement to get children, boys and girls, interested in these subjects so they will study them in school (through college) and go into careers with them, since it is obvious even to the STEM/IT incompetent that STEM/IT incompetence is making the U.S. a second-rate nation, hurting our quality of life.

"Supposedly" because STEM is really a movement to get girls to study these subjects and go into these careers in order to "empower" them, whether they are interested or not. Actually, it is really to empower the women leaders of the STEM movement (who brand all those opposed as "sexists"). The STEM movement has actually done little to get girls interested in STEM/IT subjects.

CCNA certificate, not equal, MIT diploma.

No IT Education:  Certifications

Seizing a business opportunity, companies — not schools — came up with networking certifications, the most popular being Cisco's (the leading network hardware company) Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), which is often a requirement for IT jobs, when there are any.

These certifications require no courses, just passing a single test any way you can. These are for-profit tests so they can't be so hard that no one will want to risk a lot of money with little chance of passing. In fact, many of these tests have no fixed passing grade. The passing grade depends on those taking the test at the same time such that a majority pass. So if, like the SAT, the test takers get stupider over the years there will still be the same number passing, the number that makes giving the test profitable.

Fake, University of Phoenix logo, ITT Technical Institute logo, Colorado Technical University logo, Southern New Hampshire University logo, Pikes Peak Community College logo, New Hampshire Technical Institute logo, SANS logo.

No IT Education:  For-Profit and Community Colleges, Other Training

As mentioned in No IT Education: Certifications, for-profit and community colleges often offer certification preparation IT courses. These are better than just passing the single certification test any way you can but are still insufficient for IT jobs, particularly with regards to IT security, which requires real understanding. I know from experience; see CCNA Courses (Four) from Cisco and UAF CTC in my Credentials.

For-profit and community colleges seized a business opportunity in IT education; see IT Hiring: IT Competents Demand Greater Than Supply. Good universities — see The Most Important IT Credential: An IT Education — inherently couldn't produce enough IT graduates to meet the demand of IT incompetent government, business, and the media, since it's much more like educating a doctor or lawyer than a plumber. For-profit and community colleges have to train quickly and cheaply to be profitable and, like for a doctor or a lawyer, IT competency can't be achieved that way.

Blind leading the blind off a cliff dragging IT.

No IT Education:  Memberships and Subscriptions

Many IT incompetents join IT professional organizations, particularly about IT security, and put this on their resumes as some kind of qualification even though the only requirement for membership is paying a fee, particularly since, like certifications (see No IT Education: Certifications), these organizations are often run by companies on a for-profit basis. Moreover, these organizations are invariably led by IT incompetents themselves.

Or these IT incompetents get subscriptions to IT magazines and pretend this is a qualification, even though anyone can get a subscription, these IT magazines are invariably written by IT incompetents, and probably not read by the subscriber at all.

Poor Indian child with world's cheapest laptop ($100).

No IT Education:  Foreigners

U.S. government, business, and media are increasingly hiring foreigners; see IT Hiring: Foreigners. However, the IT education of foreigners is highly-questionable. They have education systems that can't easily be compared to America's (e.g. a BS there is not the same as a BS here) and their degrees are much harder to verify (although, practically, no one checks anymore anyway). Moreover, their education systems are inferior to America's; that's why so many foreigners come to America for their educations.

The Peter Principle and pyramid crumbling at base.

IT Hiring:  The Peter Principle and Being Kicked Upstairs

When well-read people hear the word "incompetence", with regards to organizations, they first think of Dr. Laurence Peter and Raymond Hull's infamous 1969 book The Peter Principle, which is that "in a hierarchy every employee rises to her level of incompetence".

The Peter Principle makes frighteningly perfect sense (and there is abundant evidence for it). If you are hired at an entry-level position and do a good job you will be promoted. These promotions continue as long as you do a good job. At some level though, your level of incompetence, you are no longer able (qualified) to do a good job and are no longer promoted — you are stuck at a level where you do a bad job.

Supply and demand curves graph.

IT Hiring:  IT Competents Demand Greater Than Supply

In economics, on a supply and demand curves graph (see figure), on the supply curve, as the price of something increases, the quantity produced will increase (the price is thus the independent variable and should be the x axis, but as I discovered when I, Dr. Duane Thresher, took economics while at MIT, economists are mathematically rather backward).

On the demand curve, as the quantity of something decreases, the price increases, i.e. rare things are worth a lot.

Rube Goldberg stamp, Mouse Trap game, Rube Goldberg computer.

IT Hiring:  If You Can't Do IT Right, Don't Do IT At All

Just because you can't find enough IT competent workers to hire — see IT Hiring: IT Competents Demand Greater Than Supply — doesn't mean you should hire the IT incompetent. I worked at one government research institution (see Climate of Incompetence) where the IT support was terrible. After complaints from the researchers one IT incompetent was fired, without replacement, and the IT support was much better after that! An IT incompetent worker is often worse than no worker at all.

Group of diverse clowns.

IT Hiring:  Don't Care / Skimp On What You Don't Know About

Particularly among the lazy, there is an overwhelming tendency to not care about, and so skimp on, what they don't know about. If organizations start with no IT competence — that's why they are IT hiring — then they don't know about IT. Not only will they then not know how to hire IT competence, they won't care and will want to skimp on this. Not caring, they may hire based on diversity and/or political correctness and/or just if they like the person, like friends; see IT Hiring: Trading IT Competence for Diversity, IT Hiring: Trading IT Competence for Political Correctness, and/or IT Hiring: IT Incompetence Breeds Disloyalty and Corruption. Skimping, they will not pay enough to get IT competence, like hiring supposedly-cheap IT incompetent foreigners; see IT Hiring: Foreigners.

Group of diverse clowns.

IT Hiring:  Trading IT Competence for Diversity

These days organizations (government, business, media, etc.) are forced to be, or at least appear to be, "diverse", i.e. hire women and minorities and not white males, regardless of competence. And if this takes care of the shortage of IT competent workers, better still (see IT Hiring: IT Competents Demand Greater Than Supply). Further, these organizations don't care about, so skimp on, what they don't know about, like IT (see IT Hiring: Don't Care / Skimp On What You Don't Know About. So they fill many IT jobs, particularly high-visibility IT leadership jobs like Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), with IT incompetent but diverse people, particularly women (see No IT Education: "I Can Use A Smart Phone So I'm A Genius" Syndrome and No IT Education: STEM).

Group of diverse clowns.

IT Hiring:  Trading IT Competence for Political Correctness

Just like for diversity (see IT Hiring: Trading IT Competence for Diversity), because they are so intertwined, there is the problem of trading IT competence for political correctness.

9/11 was the result, in a couple of ways, of political correctness/diversity. (I was living in Manhattan on 9/11.)

First, some of the hijackers, foreign Muslims on overstayed student visas, had to learn to fly so they could fly the airliners into their targets. To do so they attended an American flight school, where they repeatedly made it clear they had no interest in learning how to land, only how to steer. As it should have, this set off alarm bells in the flight instructor's mind, but because of political correctness/diversity, he was too afraid to report it.

Bloomberg logo, Cybersecurity, baby clown photo, William Turton photo.

IT Hiring:  Young Does Not Mean IT Expert

IT incompetent government, business, and media is full of IT incompetent older people who think the young must inherently be IT experts, which is exactly wrong since becoming an IT expert takes years of study at good universities and then years of IT experience.

This "young means IT expert" delusion starts with IT incompetent adults being so amazed that children, often their own, can use computers that they hail these children as geniuses, even though the software they are using was programmed, which includes defaults, so even children can use it, i.e. it's foolproof; see No IT Education: "The Defaults Work So I'm A Genius" Syndrome and No IT Education: "I Can Use A Smart Phone So I'm A Genius" Syndrome.

Poor Indian with laptop.

IT Hiring:  Foreigners

Organizations (government, business, media, etc.) have overwhelmingly taken to hiring foreigners for IT (for government, see IT Hiring: Government, Business, and Outsourcing; for media, see IT Hiring: Media). As discussed, part of the reason for this is diversity and political correctness pressures (see IT Hiring: Trading IT Competence for Diversity and IT Hiring: Trading IT Competence for Political Correctness).

There is also the misperception, often by self-hating Americans ("familiarity breeds contempt"), that foreigners are smarter than Americans.

Hacker, Edward Snowden.

IT Hiring:  IT Incompetence Breeds Disloyalty and Corruption

Not just foreigners are less loyal and more corrupt so IT security risks in being more likely to commit data breaches themselves. IT incompetents in general are. This is because, knowing they are incompetent, they constantly fear for their jobs (practically though, they are not likely to be fired for IT incompetence; see IT Hiring: No Personal Consequences for IT Incompetence, Just Excuses), so adopt the attitude of "get it while you can", including selling data they have access to in their job, which is a data breach. This is the reason background checks are mostly credit checks.

Hacker, Edward Snowden.

IT Hiring:  No Personal Consequences for IT Incompetence, Just Excuses

As history has shown, especially recently, there are no personal consequences for IT incompetence. Yes, data breaches are costly, but to the organization (government, business, media, etc.) not personally to the IT incompetent responsible (but see The IT Incompetents Hall Of Shame (ITIHOS)). The shareholders, customers, and taxpayers suffer the consequences. Without personal consequences the situation only gets worse since IT incompetents are emboldened (although they will still fear for their jobs; see IT Hiring: IT Incompetence Breeds Disloyalty and Corruption). No personal consequences for IT incompetence is part of denying the massive problem of IT incompetence altogether.

Dominoes falling, hacker.

IT Hiring:  Cascade Failure

Those in organizations (government, business, media, etc.) doing the IT hiring — department heads or human resources / personnel departments — being IT incompetent, have no idea what is required for IT competency. At best, they hire based on certifications (or the applicant's word they have these), probably expired; see No IT Education: Certifications. At worst, they hire based only on diversity and/or political correctness; see IT Hiring: Trading IT Competence for Diversity and/or IT Hiring: Trading IT Competence for Political Correctness.

IT, wheelbarrow of money, American clown.

IT Hiring:  No, Government Doesn't Pay Less Than Business

Particularly in IT, it has always been assumed that government jobs pay less than business jobs so government has all the undesirable incompetents. However, this assumption is not true, not now and probably never has been.

Business always insists that it can do the work more cheaply than government (see IT Hiring: Government, Business, and Outsourcing). How could business do that if it was paying its workers more, since salaries are usually the greatest cost in business? No, business has to limit costs, thus salaries, because they have to be profitable., Doug Wolfe, CIA seal, John Edwards.

IT Hiring:  Government, Business, and Outsourcing

Particularly in IT, there is the assumption, promulgated by business, that business can do government work cheaper and better. However, as shown in IT Hiring: No, Government Doesn't Pay Less Than Business, they both cost about the same and they both end up with IT incompetents, so this is not true.

This false assumption though has led to massive outsourcing by IT incompetent government to IT incompetent business. This outsourcing is not only to business but also overseas since some of these companies are foreign controlled and/or foreign staffed, which is a massive national security risk.

American clowns in revolving door.

IT Hiring:  Government, Business, and the Revolving Door

Government-business outsourcing (see IT Hiring: Government, Business, and Outsourcing) abets the government-business "revolving door". From Fed IT Run By Enron's Corrupt Accountant, IT Incompetent Accenture:
Working for the government and then getting hired by a corporation providing services to the government, or vice versa, and then maybe back and forth again — always to increasingly lucrative positions — is standard procedure in corrupt government. It's called the "revolving door". Suzie Kent will be the Fed CIO for a few years and make sure her former longtime employer Accenture, even as IT incompetent as it is, gets most or all of the contracts to supply the U.S. Government with IT services. Then later she will leave the government and go back to a very lucrative executive position at Accenture. There will be no provable quid pro quo but it will be obvious to anyone who is not an idiot that there was one. Taxpayers, and their children and grandchildren, will be left with the bill for billions of dollars and an IT incompetent government that can't and won't help and protect them.

Goofy glasses clown, Nicole Perlroth.

IT Hiring:  Media

Media, being just a business, is subject to the same principles as government and business in IT hiring; see preceding entries.

For democracy to work, media (i.e. writers) is supposed to keep government, business, and the general public well-informed. This was considered important enough that a protection for it was put into the Constitution by the Founding Fathers: the First Amendment.

Uncle Sam, Columbia, Apscitu.

IT Hiring:  You

If you've read through all the preceding principles/entries, you have a better understanding of IT incompetence than anyone in government, business or media. Still, the important points to remember if you are doing the IT hiring:

You should always ask for, and check, the IT qualifications/credentials of those doing the actual IT work (not frontmen); see The Most Important IT Credential: An IT Education. If they won't tell you it is because they are IT incompetent — if they weren't, they wouldn't hesitate to shout these credentials at you.

Bandit masked
               clown, evil clown, goofy glasses clown.

The IT Incompetents Hall Of Shame (ITIHOS)

Apscitu Inc. provides the highest-grade ultra-secure custom IT services and consulting for select clients. Part of its mission is to stop IT incompetence to the highest levels of government, business, and media.

As discussed in IT Hiring: No Personal Consequences for IT Incompetence, Just Excuses, without personal consequences IT incompetence only gets worse. The only way to enforce personal consequences outside an organization is to publicly shame individuals who are IT incompetent, particularly IT leaders like Chief Information Officers (CIO) and Chief Information Security Officers (CISO), and those responsible for data breaches. To that end, Apscitu Inc. has established the IT Incompetents Hall of Shame (ITIHOS). As you will have noticed reading through the preceding principles/entries, many examples from the ITIHOS have been used, especially since they informed the writing of the entries.