Tuesday, January 15, 2008

More on this morning's #twittout

As I noted earlier, I was planning on monitoring the goings-on at the Steve Jobs keynote address this morning, and had decided that the ideal location to do so would be at macworld.hashtags.org. Because hashtags.org realized that there would be a lot of interest in the Steve Jobs keynote, they set up a special subdomain address for easy access.

Great idea. In cases in which a major event has already been scheduled, this action not only provided the easy-to-use address, but also allowed for editorial recommendation of the best hashtag to use for the event. And yes, I know that any type of governance of the twitterverse is completely and totally evil and we, led by Jay Fresh, should resist any such government (even if in jest) to the death.

But I'm too lazy to don my "Anarchy R00lz" t-shirt at the moment, so I went along with the convention and dutifully filed my tweets with the #macworld hashtag. In fact, I got three hashtagged tweets in right before 9:00.

Then Twitter flipped the bird.

I know that billions of people were upset at the loss of my wisdom. Or not. But I'm sure that there were a number of people that were looking forward to what Fake Steve Jobs promised.

Switching to Twitter-- FakeSteveTwit

To get the live blog, go to my Twitter feed--


See you there.

Well, there wasn't anything on FakeSteveTwit, but there sure were a lot of comments at the Fake Steve blog. Dongo's comment was my favorite:

Dude, you killed twitter.


Zoli noted that both Twitter and CoveritLive were having problems. Meanwhile, a commenter linked to a YouTube video (a parody of this anti-Apple video) encouraging people to join a "Twitter Must Die" group on Facebook. (I won't join; as Stan Ridgway says, they don't want me.)

The failure of Twitter was predictable, at least to someone who contacted Dave Winer.

A few minutes before it started someone on Twitter asked how long before the rate of updates on Twitter brought it down.

Well, it's down now (9:22AM).

Winer was following along on Engadget, then later joined Robert Scoble by watching MacRumorsLive, from MacRumors (I chose to follow at macworld.com), but Winer continued to check on Twitter.

Twitter is still down at 9:37AM.

Maybe they took the system down so they could demo it at Moscone (site of the keynote) without any load?

And later:

Just checked Twitter at 9:52AM -- it's up.

Still later:

At 10:05AM, Twitter is dead again.

Here was Twitter's statement as of 9:10 am:

Twitter is currently experiencing some slowness related to the massive number of updates around Steve Job's keynote at MacWorld. We're working on it and will keep you updated!

The obvious lessons from this whole episode are as follows:

  • Twitter is danged popular.

  • When a special event, either planned (#openworld07, #macworld) or unplanned (#sandiegofire) occurs, people flock to the bird.

  • For the really large events, the bird currently can't handle the pressure.
Obviously these issues are not unique to Twitter, since Twitter wasn't the only site that experienced difficulty during the keynote, and I'm sure many of us can come up with a number of examples of overloaded systems. But there's a second set of more general lessons that can be derived here.
  • Traffic redirects around a problem. When Twitter went down, people turned to Blogger and other sources to disseminate and read information.

  • You need to rely upon multiple information sources, in case some of your sources go down. (If you only rely on one information source, and it goes down, then how do you know where to go to get the information?)
And, if you haven't figured it out already, I am proposing a new hashtag - #twittout - that will join my other recently-created hashtag #caprimary in the realms of indifference.

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Dana said...

I noticed Twitter slowdowns the nights of the Iowa and NH primaries/caucuses. They're especially apparent if you use Twitterific, which has been mostly nonfunctional today.

Ontario Emperor said...

I use straight Twitter, either in a web browser (IE6 or IE7) in Windows XP or in the Windows Mobile 5 IE web browser. However, I heard reports yesterday of a number of third party Twitter clients having problems.