Last night Twitter crashed again, but this time the messaging service didn’t shut down — it misplaced “followers,” or about one-third of the people whom other people had connected with. Imagine one-third of your Facebook or LinkedIn or Outlook contacts mysteriously disappearing and you get the idea.
Twitter users screamed. The pain was intense because people carefully build up Twitter audiences over time. Some, like us, network for marketing inspiration and carefully build a group of specialized experts to converse with. Power users, such as social media adviser Chris Brogan or the ad industry’s “experience designer” David Armano, open arms to the world and build up thousands of followers.
Suddenly, human links were gone. It points out the fragility of entrusting content to online computing clouds — something almost all of us do. This blog contains more than 700 articles on advertising strategy, enough for a book and not backed up anywhere. Your Flickr photos or YouTube uploads or LinkedIn resume are floating on servers halfway around the country.
And it goes deeper, to the tools you use every day. Phone numbers are stored in your cell phone, not mind. You write electronic documents stored on spinning hard drives susceptible to crash. Your personal wealth is stored in a checking account and Vanguard fund, really computers filled with ones and zeros.
And it goes even deeper, to the future. Today we can’t play eight-tracks or vinyl records. Will blogs and Word/Excel documents and Tweets be visible to the technology users of the future? Or will our grandchildren think back and laugh at our text communications, like a pile of dried up faxes or IBM computer tapes decomposing in a landfill?
The power of using the “new thing” is hard to resist. Unfortunately, everything new at some point becomes history.