As I write, Twitter has been unreachable for a little over forty minutes. The outage is starting to stretch into an hour. Frankly I question what will come first tonight, the return of Twitter or the kick-off to Uncontrolled Vocabulary #42. This ping shows that the machine lives but is just not responsive:
PING twitter.com (188.8.131.52): 56 data bytes
64 bytes from 184.108.40.206: icmp_seq=0 ttl=245 time=315.044 ms
64 bytes from 220.127.116.11: icmp_seq=1 ttl=245 time=219.245 ms
64 bytes from 18.104.22.168: icmp_seq=2 ttl=245 time=447.906 ms
64 bytes from 22.214.171.124: icmp_seq=3 ttl=245 time=221.922 ms
64 bytes from 126.96.36.199: icmp_seq=4 ttl=245 time=238.351 ms
64 bytes from 188.8.131.52: icmp_seq=5 ttl=245 time=216.497 ms
64 bytes from 184.108.40.206: icmp_seq=6 ttl=245 time=233.835 ms
64 bytes from 220.127.116.11: icmp_seq=7 ttl=245 time=227.089 ms
64 bytes from 18.104.22.168: icmp_seq=8 ttl=245 time=276.421 ms
--- twitter.com ping statistics ---
9 packets transmitted, 9 packets received, 0% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 216.497/266.257/447.906/71.099 ms
This has given me pause to think. Yes, online services that are free can be nice things. As CNet's Charlie Cooper has noted in a column, there is even some talk about nationalizing Twitter. The biggest question is what people want and how is it going to be paid for?
Free services online truly are not free. There are fixed overheads to consider such as connections between the server and the rest of the world let alone the electricity to keep the server running. Without an influx of cash regularly, such things do burn out. This is a fear expressed over Twitter.
While Twitter is a nice thing, I have migrated more of what I do over to Pownce. On Pownce I do have my own site where I can post Twitter-like things but can also do more. For the things that Twitter needs extensions to do, Pownce seems more readily equipped to handle such.
Why do I bring this up? The key question in dealing with free services is their reliability. Is Twitter something that is necessarily reliable for what one might do on a day-to-day basis? Do you truly get what you pay for with Twitter? Think about that for a moment.
I am not against micro-blogging. As a way to promote comity it serves a good purpose. I would almost be more in favor of a subscription site being created for library types using WordPress and the micro-blog template known as Prologue. A subscription rate of USD$1 per month per participant would certainly not pay for all costs but it would defray some.
As we enter into what will be the second hour of the Twitter outage, I can only wonder if this makes more sense than what we're in now. After all, doesn't this outage show we've gotten our money's worth? My pinging of Twitter will likely continue until they're back up.
If they're back up today...which may be according to Lynx. They're perhaps just getting crap-flooded right now. Then again, maybe I am too optimistic.