• Rob Spectre
  • 31
  • Jan
  • 09

For just under an hour, Google was fucked.  The bread-and-butter search function suffered a configuration issue with its anti-phishing technology causing it to flag the entire Internet as harmful.

In response, that Internet shat its pants.

Blogs freaked the fuck out.  Screenshots were posted everywhere.  And Twitter, the drought wracked Californian hills of the Internet most thirsty for the wildfire of panic, was a chorus of dogs and cats living together mass hysteria.

Source: Tweet Trends

Source: Tweet Trends

Google failing became quite nearly more important than the SuperBowl.

Power outages affecting hundreds of thousands of homes get less press than this forty minute hiccup.  The response was incredible in the original sense of the word; both in number and volume the whole of the information economy seemed beside themselves in histrionics.  Is it schadenfreude?  Taking joy in the public failure of the company that can do no wrong?

Or is it something more fundamental? Did Google quietly become a utility, as vital as electricity, gas and running water?  Have we become unwittingly dependent on this resource to function as a 21st century?  Did our relationship with this resource change from want to need?

Should we have an outage measured in days instead of minutes, we may well know that answer.  In the meantime, these are just hiccups as we continue to drink their mother’s milk, too young to know how dependent on this mother we are.

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  • Heh. I'm not sure I would have called it 'freaking out' :)

    I'd say I posted about it initially because I didn't know that it was system wide and was curious as to whether it was or not. Then as it became apparent that it was system wide, well, there's some internal amusement at seeing things go slightly awry for the most pervasive search engine on the net. I'm not so Twitter savvy, so I'm not sure what their reactions were like.

    However you're completely right that people have slowly become dependent on Google - any consistent computer user is probably using their search hundreds of times a week (I used Google for search 600 time in January) but if Google completely disappeared tomorrow though, well, there'd be a hell of a lot of talk about it but people would work out other ways to get on, and something else would fill the gap.

    Mostly, I'd say it was amusement and happiness at seeing that everything is prone to error. It's almost reassuring to see something that is pretty much ever constant go wrong.

  • One other thing that occurs to me comes from being somewhat embedded in the tech world. It's a bit of an admission of guilt really, but I think anyone constantly processing hundreds of posts of tech information is exposed to so many "discovery" posts that you probably yearn to get one out yourself. Maybe it's the Andy Warhol effect? Everyone's looking for their fifteen minutes of fame ;)

  • Your thoughts on google quietly become a utility is interesting. I began a spyware check when it happend rather than think something was wrong with google. I guess we are becoming very dependent on google.

  • You have made me think - imagine what would happen if Google were hacked in such a way that users were misled into visiting Malware sites?!

    That would be something so far reaching that most every country in the world would be affected!

  • And I thought it was my router. I've been having problems with Google through OpenDNS on Ubuntu Studio Alpha 3 and figured it had something to do with that. I had no idea it was systemic.

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