Ah! Good morning! I'm feeling mighty fine! How are you? Oh, why am I so cheerful this morning?
Because Twitter was down.
It's coming back online now, but it was straight-up out of commission for most of the morning. It's the third outage this month, in fact. And it makes me so happy each time. I only wish this morning's outage had lasted a little longer into the day for us West Coast folks.
Why the schadenfreude, you might ask? Why take delight at the misfortune of others? Well, let me be clear. I have endless compassion for the brilliant engineers at Twitter. They've built something unbelievably powerful, and it's a testament to their talents that it runs at all. But I think the human users who spin the wheels of that real-time interruption machine could use a break every once in a while.
When Twitter is down, it's like a Snow Day on the Internet.
I understand that most people can and do use Twitter by choice. That's a very good thing. As an intentional hobby, Twitter is immensely valuable. Just dipping into the stream can provide an hour's or a day's worth of news, humor and even friendship, if you keep your Twitter feed tidy enough. "Twitter is my rosary," my word-hero Erin Kissane once said.
Twitter is my rosary.— erin kissane (@kissane) December 9, 2011
But Twitter is slightly darker for some of its users. In fact, it's the dark part that Twitter the company has decided to focus on for its business goals. Those users would be the media. That's us.
For the blogosphere, Twitter is the tip of the spear. Sifting through it all day for leads is the only way to even try to know what's happening everywhere at once. And if a blogger like me wants to take a break from Twitter to concentrate on something, too bad. If I do, I'll miss a hundred other things. So, except for those brilliant emergencies at the top of the news cycle, the decision to concentrate is basically the decision to give up.
Most of the time, to ignore Twitter is to fall behind. Whether you care about that or not is up to you, unless it's your job. But not on Internet Snow Days. On Snow Days, everything is nice and quiet.
I'm just being poetic, of course. Twitter outages are actually excellent opportunities to break news, but that's precisely because so many other people are out playing in the snow. The media have become so dependent on this one service, this one critical point of failure, that it has begun to coalesce around it. Twitter is the heartbeat of the media now. That's great for Twitter. Long may it reign.
But for me, as a little neuron in the brain of the media, I could use a rest.
Oh, what? Twitter's back up? Great. I'll refill the coffee.
Photo credit: Jon Mitchell