I have to say I'm rather concerned at these stories in IT publications that I hold in high regard. The reason is that when you read the story and look at the report, it does not back up the claims about IT failure in these articles. They claim that:
"...the US government released a summary of BP’s own early investigation into the problems. The document contains some damning facts about IT at the rig, ..."Except that it doesn't: the Congressional memorandum makes no mention of IT, or for that matter the words 'information', 'computer' or 'software' (go on, click the above link and see for yourself). The memo does however make plenty of mention of procedural and (non-IT) equipment failures.
There were references to robots and supercomputers in the articles, but in the context of the clear-up (and so are not relevant). The only other part of the two articles that seemed to support their narrative was:
"BP has said the accident “was brought about by the failure of a number of processes, systems and equipment”..."The problem with leaning on this (unattributed) quote is that it does not specifically apply to IT. In fact the above form of words is so generic that it could apply to anything. The plain English translation would be 'stuff went wrong, we don't know what, but we wish to sound like we do!'.
In short, the content and sources of these articles do not support their title or overall narrative of an IT failure: in fact they point to likely non-IT causes.
Why should this bother me? The reason is that ensuring that an informed public debate on issues as serious as the BP oil leak is important, as is the role of IT in society more generally. Given the blame that will doubt arise as a result of the tragedy, the easy route of blaming IT for the sake of expediency is not the responsible or moral one.