In Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Road, civilization as we know it has been destroyed. A global population of billions has been reduced to just a few scattered survivors, struggling to stay alive in a gray world of ash and sulphur. A man must summon all his courage simply to take one more step.
This, it turns out, is exactly what it feels like when Google stops working.
In case your whole life isn't inextricably bound up with the fortunes of Gmail, Reader, Google Docs, and the rest, here's what happened. For a period of several hours yesterday, Google's whole suite of web applications simply stopped working. The company claimed "packet loss" for the trouble, which sounds suspiciously like a delinquent debtor assuring his creditor that the check is in the mail. Some also blamed AT&T for the trouble, and we all know how much they like stealin' packets.
The point here isn't so much why it happened, but how awful it was when it did happen. Google's rise has been largely a good thing for Web users. Through them you can get free email, free blog hosting, free spreadsheets (!), and way more. But the lurking peril to being so dependent on one provider for all these things is that there's no recourse when the provider trips up. Even people who don't actively use Google's applications were affected -- numerous websites that rely on Google Analytics for performance tracking had trouble loading during the outage.
During those few dark hours, the one place people were able to go for information was Twitter. (By the way, are you following FamilyEducation on Twitter?) Ironically, Twitter had its own fish to fry this week, as the "#fixreplies" meme got rolling.
See, earlier this week Twitter made a small change to the rules, which has users fuming. Apparently, when someone you are following replies to somebody you're not following, that Tweet no longer shows up in your timeline. The #fixreplies meme spread across the Twitterscape like swine flu. To hear folks tell it, this is a travesty -- proving, once again, that there is no useful, free service you can provide for people that they won't spend all their energy bitching about if given even half a chance.
And that's this week's failblogging. Play us off, keyboard cat!