Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Different reactions to the #twittout

I've recommended (via FriendFeed) that these two posts be read in tandem.

One is from Michael Arrington and reads, in part:

For me Twitter became indispensable in March 2008, when my usage skyrocketed....It is now an important part of my work and social life, as I carry on bite-sized conversations with thousands of people around the world throughout the day. It’s a huge marketing tool, and information tool. But it is also a social habit that’s hard to kick.

The other is from Kara Swisher and reads, in part:

[W]hile Twitter is amazing in many ways, its tech glitches don’t deserve this level of emergency alarms.

But that has not stopped the echo chamber of Silicon Valley from making a lot of really noisy noise about the indignity of it all.

Swisher then notes that this #twittout (my term, not hers) doesn't compare in reach to the 19-hour AOL outage in August 1996, which affected 6.3 million users. bhc3 delved into the AOL episode in more detail:

AOL had been humming along in growth, and then they hit an inflection point. They changed their offering to a low-cost, flat-rate fee for Internet access. Eventually, so many people signed up and used AOL that many people couldn’t actually get online.

So who's the winner? Robert Scoble argued that FriendFeed gets a clear benefit here:

Twitter is handing FriendFeed a gift. A major one at that....

Why is FriendFeed seeing this growth? Well, for one, it hasn’t gone down since I’ve joined it. It was built from the start to scale, which after I met the team I understood why: two of the founders of FriendFeed started Gmail and Google Maps, so I’m sure they’ve learned a few tricks about making sure services don’t go down from Google.

For more background, see this Disqus conversation between myself, Robert Scoble, and Dave Winer in Winer's blog.

Meanwhile, Bryan Person cited a rather dour opinion on Twitter's future:

My friend Jack Hodgson is convinced that Twitter’s death is coming, and that we should start preparing for it now. It’s nights like tonight that I really think he’s onto something.

To my knowledge, Hodgson hasn't written about this prediction, but I did find a fairly dour tweet:

Another quiet day on twitter. Or is something broken? Given twitter's checkered past, I'm leaning toward the latter.

06:48 AM April 21, 2008 from web

Meanwhile, here's the official word from Twitter, in an April 21 blog post that has been updated several times:

Monday, April 21, 2008
Weekend Web Weirdness
On Friday, we successfully deployed a new memcache project as part of our overall work to create a more scalable service. After the deploy, we needed to move a lot of data with minimum impact on service quality. To do this, we put together some code that moves data only as it is requested.

This process kept a minimum on service disruption but did cause Twitter to have a complex conversation with two sets of caches over the weekend and into today. This resulted in some caching issues—namely, the /home timeline cache wasn't being updated correctly for everyone.

We're aware of this, we realize that it's annoying, and we're meeting today about how to best finish up this project and clean up any remaining bugs. Thanks to everyone who checked in with us on Satisfaction, @replies, and email over the weekend. Overall, completing this memcache project is a big win that will lead to increased stability.

Update: We're working on this project more today and will be checking in again this evening. Also, we keep folks updated as much as possible on our forum over at Get Satisfaction (in case you're only visiting this blog for news).

Update: We've deployed code that gets Twitter talking to one - and only one - pool
of memcache servers. This eliminates a lot of potential confusion and is progress. But we are still noticing related symptoms so we're still investigating and making improvements.

Update: Okay, here's a more satisfying update. We're catching up on things and backfilling the timelines. Once things are caught up, we should be good—and successfully moved to the new memcaching scheme.

As far as I know, Twitter's only two communications on this issue were the April 21 blog post, and the April 19 tweet from @twitter_status which I cited earlier. (Oddly enough, @twitter_status did not issue an April 21 tweet that linked to the blog post.)

P.S. I performed a search for my favorite hashtag term twittout, and I ran across this February tweet from taulpaul that proposed a new product:

new t-shirt: "I lived through the last twitter outage" This would have a OLED which would display the time and date of the last twittout.

03:25 PM February 14, 2008 from web

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