Last week's TypePad outage is the best proof yet that Web 2.0 is fatally flawed. Twelve millions blogging accounts were unaccessible for nearly a day, after a technical problem occurred when Six Apart added a second server (or at least, that's the story they're telling).
(Web 2.0 is a catch-all phrase for running software and storing data on Internet servers. The best examples today are Gmail, Weblogs, and Internet banking.)
When advocates push Web 2.0, they forget the reason for the PC revolution. Users were disgusted with terminal services provided by the centralized mainframe servers employed by larger corporations and univserities. I recall my dad complaining about the IS [information services] department being a month late in sending him his monthly reports. I recall waiting for a half-hour or longer for the UBC Computing Center staff to place printouts in cubbyholes. The personal computer (later renamed the desktop computer) freed us from dependency on others.
Twenty-five years later, software companies are eagerly looking forward to re-enslaving the PC-using population. They cite the following advantages and (naturally) sideline the drawbacks:
- software is alway automatically up-to-date [but updates introduce new problems, and I don't trust any service that's "automatic"].
- data can be accessed anywhere [assuming (1) an high-speed Internet connection is available and (2) the server hasn't failed].
- automatic backups of data [assuming the backup strategy is correctly implemented; for security reasons, we would not be told how backups work].
The ultimate folly of Web 2.0 is when we allow control of critical software slip from our grasp, and into the hands of ultimately unaccountable corporations. For me, examples of critical software include email, the spreadsheet that keeps track of my business income, desktop publishing, and so on.
Infoworld notes that Salesforce.com outage cuts users off -- and this is probably the most successful Web 2.0 company in the commercial field. "Salesforce.com "on demand" CRM [customer relationship management] system came up short in meeting demand on Tuesday, when some customers found the hosted software service unreachable for most of the day," reports Stacy Cowley.
I don't use Microsoft services, but my family does. They frequently suffer Hotmail and MSN Messenger outages -- dozens more outages than from our in-house collection of six computers. Some months earlier, I wrote about my experience with VOiP [voice over internet protocol] telephones. Simply unreliable.