Reliable Services

Reliable Services

One bane of the social web is the unreliability of services that we depend upon more and more to extend our brand, connect with friends (real or imaginary), or flat out do our work (work? what’s that?).

Twitter (at least for me) is more noticeable when it is down, as it is one of the more immediate and impactful of all the social web services. I update all of my sites that have statuses using Twitter integration in one form or another. I regularly use 3 twitter clients a day (two browser based, one mobile based) to check tweets and update my status.

When Twitter is working, it is the best thing since sliced bread. When it is not… ah, there’s the rub. It is down ALL the FREAKIN’ time.

On the one hand, how can one complain about the uptime of a “free” service? And yet, how can I delegate more trust and business function to a service that is as unconstant as the moon (nod to Will Shakespeare)?

I’m picking on Twitter in this regard, though there are plenty of other examples out there in Web 2.0 land (the Bloglines Plumber and the LinkedIn Wizard – who made an appearance last night, BTW – are just as recognizable as the Twitter Cat and Robot screen). Bebo had some ungawdly downtime number, measured in the double digit HOURS for a two month period, and that just ain’t gonna cut it ongoing.

The relative unreliability of social networking services, free though they are now, are real stumbling blocks to wider adoption by businesses that need reliable up-time “always there” access. Web services should STRIVE for the level of service and reliability that we expect from our phone service, water systems, and electrical grid.

Strive is the key word.

Think I am overhyping this? What if you were trying to alert a campus emergency ala Va Tech with Twitter or a service like it, and got the Cat and Robot screen? What happens when Skype goes down for a day?

Real world high availability systems are just as vulnerable as the virtual systems I’m ragging on. Just ask the people on the East Coast of Florida about their half-day blackout a couple of days ago.

Again, we must strive for a higher level of service from the online services to which we are devoting large chunks of our lives and intellectual capital.

Now, forgive me. I have to go interact with real people until Twitter allows me to chat with my imaginary friends.

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