10 Mar 2009 6:29 am   //   Filed under: Failure, Hard times, Technology

Embrace the fail whale

As I write this, Digg is down. Two weeks ago, chaos ensued when Gmail went offline. On Saturday and Sunday, at least 12 hours passed when I couldn’t log into Facebook. TinyURL had a service outage yesterday. Twitter gets overloaded so often that it’s error page has it own fan club.

As they say in the news business, five items make a trend. (Or is it three? Do we still say that? Who knows any more.)

Any computer system is bound to have some unannounced downtime. But these free Web 2.0 services have become such a part of our daily communication that even a little bit of downtime becomes a frustration.

One thing Digg, Facebook, Twitter, TinyURL and Gmail have in common is that there is no conceivable way they generate enough revenue to cover their costs. (We know Digg loses money, Facebook almost certainly does, Twitter generates no revenue, TinyURL might make a trickle of paid advertising, and Gmail is probably a loss leader for Google given the awesome amount of computing power and memory it requires.)

Money is running out. Get used to outages!