Nearly a full half-hour into the darkness this morning and we were beginning to wonder if it was time to break out the hurricane candles and board games – the world seemed to suddenly slow down and it had, dramatically. Twitter, you see, died on us this morning.

While we’re used to seeing the intermittent Fail Whale, the outage this morning lasted a solid 24 minutes according to the company, affecting both the website and API.

In reality, the outage is not something new or even all that rare for the microblogging service, but normally we expect it to happen around highly trafficked Internet events, such as the iPad launch this weekend. But this outage, smack dab in the middle of the Monday morning news cycle, caught us completely off guard and we found ourselves wondering – where do you go when Twitter goes down?

Now, we don’t mean to be making a mountain out of a molehill here, and this certainly wasn’t like the four hour outage of last October, but it reminded us of our reliance on Twitter as a primary source of real-time communication, information and interaction.

Part of the problem we found this morning was that, especially when the API goes down too, our redundancy fails. We rely, in many ways, on our Twitter contacts list for our professional interactions and immediate, real-time communications. Normally, the website goes down but our trusty third-party clients keep on working. And many of the other sites we use simply pipe in our Twitter stream, joining it with other streams.

How can you ask the masses where to go and what to do when your megaphone is suddenly silenced? The extent to which Twitter has become the go-to source for real-time updates and mass responses suddenly became all too apparent.

Facebook we use more as a personal social network, Myspace was long ago abandoned and FriendFeed, what used to be the old standby when Twitter went down, remained a virtual ghost town during the outage this morning. Can Google Buzz pick up the slack when Twitter keels over? Or can we flip on over to to keep in touch? What sort of redundancy do you have built in to your social networks?

So, we had to wonder – where do you go when the Twitter lights go out? Or do you just hunker down and enjoy the silence for that sweet 24 minutes, like you might use a dusting of snow as an excuse to not drive to work that day?

As for the outage, there has been no word from the company on the cause, either on its blog or Twitter account and our emails received no response. We’ll just have to chalk it up to an overflow of iPad gushing in the meantime.

Update: Twitter says that it doesn’t know the exact cause of the issue yet, but says that it was an internal issue.

mike melanson