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The Great Gmail Fail - and the collective panic/meltdown on Twitter...

In case you weren't watching your Twitter stream this morning (US Eastern time), Google's Gmail has been down. You can read about it on Mashable, TechCrunch, VentureBeat and probably a zillion other blog sites by now. It's probably back up by now.

But if you were on Twitter this morning, you would have DEFINITELY known that Gmail was down. Here's the state of after I left the tab open for a bit:


Yes, that's 22,057 messages since I opened the window - all mentioning "gmail". In the time it's taken me to write these few paragraphs, the count has now climbed to 22,601.

gmaildown-twitter-1.jpgThe Twittersphere is experiencing a gigantic collective spasm of worry/panic/meltdown, along with a healthy dose of amusement thrown in at all of the worry/panic/meltdown.

Many of us have spoken or written about Twitter as an "attention lens" where it helps point you to what others find important at the moment. This morning it wasn't so much a "lens" as it was a giant screaming sledgehammer!

It was, in many ways, absolutely fascinating.

Kind of like standing on the side of the highway watching a giant wreck/collision. Or watching similar scenes on TV. It was mesmerizing to a certain degree. I also learned of the site via the page to watch 'gmail' tweets:


It was admittedly interesting to have on my screen in my hotel room as I did an early round of email checking. With the sheer volume, though, I did have to bump up the speed from the default to "4 per second".

The reality is, of course, that the collective focus probably did absolutely nothing to help Google bring the service back online. Instead, you had 7 zillion people repeatedly checking their browsers - or rushing to configure IMAP because IMAP access to GMail was working, albeit with slow spots. The amount of traffic heading into GMail's servers must have been rather massive.

Scattered amongst the plaintive wails of anguish were naturally those pointing to problems with so many people relying on Google's services... and pointing out the problems of pushing services into the "cloud"... etc.

All of which are valid concerns, of course, but I suspect the reality is that in a few hours or a day or two this will long be forgotten. Google's Gmail was down for a few hours. Next topic....

Google just makes Gmail so seductively easy to use. I imagine people will just keep on going (although one hopes people will look into either IMAP or Google Gears so that they do have a local copy).

gmaildown-twitter-2.jpgMeanwhile, the tweets continue... (as now everyone needs to tweet that the service is back up for them, of course!)

P.S. And I should say that I am as guilty as anyone as tweeting about Gmail being down.

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