Social Tool Outages, and What Tech We Can't Live Without

By December 23, 2010
Computer danger zone

Skype and Twitter experienced outages today, and a related study shows the impact of high speed Internet and popular services on our society.

Coverage of consumer level Internet-based service outages is repetitive at best. So the fact that Skype and Twitter both experienced communication failures today is nothing newsworthy, if not for a somewhat related report released this week.

The Zogby International poll outlines what can best be seen when Internet users are denied some of their usual free and convenient communication methods. Adults surveyed earlier this month agree that "the expansion of high speed Internet has had the greatest technological impact on society over the past decade, and it is the technology most believe they cannot live without."

The outage inspired a number of journalists not only to frustration, but to publicly illustrate the importance of some sort of crisis plan. As Silicon Alley Insider suggests, businesses who rely on these services are not operating in the most foolproof fashion - professional grade communication products come with reliability, but free ones for consumers do not.

These outages can have a domino effect, as when one product goes down, clients move to the next network, perhaps from Skype to Google's Talk service, and increased pressure could overload that network. According to GigaOm, we should not abandon these tools, an unlikely option to begin with, but keep informed of multiple backup options.

The poll shows where most people place tech impact on - high speed Internet at 24 percent and Facebook at 22 percent. Google came in third at ten percent for the most impact on society. Demographically, the results skewed somewhat - for the same question, women and adults under 55 chose Facebook more often, while men and those over 55 said high speed Internet.

High speed Internet is the technology that most people cannot live without - 28 percent chose this in the poll. E-mail came in second with eighteen percent, and Facebook third at three percent. But for young adults (aged 18-24), fifteen percent responded that they cannot live without Facebook.

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