Twitter and its Culture of Downtime

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Despite continued changes in its staff and infrastructure, Twitter continues to experience frequent outages. The wildly popular micro-blogging service has had four significant outages over the past seven days, totaling more than 7 hours of downtime, according to Pingdom. The service already had the most downtime of any major social media site in 2008, after being offline for six full days during 2007.

Are the users fed up yet? Apparently not. In fact, some twitter users singing seem to be drawing inspiration from the regular outages:

  • The regular bursts of “Twitter is down” blog posts serve as the punchline for a cartoon today by Dion Almaer. At the heart of the joke is the notion that Twitter’s down time only makes it stronger – by making it seem so essential.
  • Allen Stern of Center Networks composed a song about “just how much I am attached to Twitter and how much it really hurts deep, deep down when it’s down.” Twitter Come Back comes complete with its own music video and lyrics.

I guess if you can’t fix your infrastructure, the next best thing is to have such devoted users that they take the downtime in stride, using it as an opportunity to compose songs and cartoons about the service. Which raises a question: is Twitter’s downtime stifling productivity, or making its users more creative?

Of course, there are also those who argue that the Internet’s productivity and creativity both improve every time Twitter goes down.

UPDATE: GigaOm reports that Twitter is in the midst of raising and other large round of venture capital. Perhaps the company will invest in new cash in fixing its struggling infrastructure.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor-in-chief of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.