This past week has been a weird one in terms of technology. First there was some issues (perhaps residual) from Twitter’s downtime and then Google had issues with Gmail being down for at least a day and FourSquare having trouble yesterday and now WordPress is reporting a major security issue with its self-hosted option?
In all of this malevolent news, I’ve thought about at least five (5) web applications that people can’t live without and be interested to know your thoughts:
Yes, Gmail seems to be the most obvious one to mention – especially in light of recent events. Frankly, I’m a bit perturbed if my email goes down moreover than if other sites like Twitter or Facebook collapse. Before social media, email was the king of all media. IT allowed you to send messages however long you wanted to however many friends or strangers you wanted. Gmail’s unfortunate downtime has put a serious kink in people’s productivity because it seems a lot of people have grown accustomed to Gmail’s practically unlimited storage space, easy to find conversations via their threaded conversations, labeling and search features and integration with other helpful web apps like Google Reader & Google Calendar. To remove someone from their email is basically ripping off their right arm and for can be especially devastating for those people who might be using Gmail as their primary form of business communication since it’s quite popular for people to redirect all their emails into Gmail.
Twitter is perhaps the next most troubling web app that people can’t seem to live without – at least those individuals who are ON the microblogging application and actively use it. It’s my thought that people have turned to using Twitter more than just a status update. In fact, it’s turned to become a multi-facted communication tool. I have friends that reach out to one another using Twitter’s direct messaging capability or engage in a hearty public conversation. This is how you know about news, events and other things about your friends and networks. Unlike Gmail, if Twitter goes down, people are unsure about where they should go afterwards. I suppose that you have FriendFeed and Facebook, but there’s something about Twitter that people just want to be a part of and go through withdrawal if the site isn’t up.
This leads me to my next web app: Facebook. It seems that this platform has become it’s own little social universe of sorts. It has everyone putting all their data on there allowing businesses to create their own sub homepages so customers and other folks can stumble upon it and be interested in the product. In essence, it’s the mini-web…just 1/6th the size of the real one. So it would be especially heartbreaking if the network were to go down. I know that there have been times when Facebook is rather sluggish and has issues with loading. That has resulted in people ranting on Twitter or other networks about the stability of this site. For such an important site where people gather nearly on a daily basis to connect with networks, press/media, friends & family, this is an area that can’t afford to shut down…it has wider implications than simply not allowing people to poke one another, share videos, send gifts or post funny comments on each others walls.
Although relatively new to the scene since it’s introduction during the 2008 edition of South by Southwest, FourSquare has grown immensely in popularity and people love to be able to “check-in” and accrue enough points to be awarded the “mayorship” of a venue. It’s a nice social media/mobile game that anyone can participate in. Even some businesses are using FourSquare for business purposes as well – offering discounts to those who have been a frequent visitor to their establishment and have been named “mayor”. It’s almost as if FourSquare is a drug and everyone needs to get their fix. Just look at how people use it on Twitter. It’s especially helpful for those looking to see where their friends are (in a non-stalking manner). You want to know where people are hanging out right now? Just check out FourSquare.
And lastly, who could live without WordPress? It’s pretty shocking for a lot of the bloggers out there who are using WordPress to find out that there is some serious issues with the platform and that they’re unable to access their blogs – especially if it plagues those that are self-hosted AND those hosted by WordPress directly. There are perhaps hundreds of million blogs out in the World Wide Web and some of the major sites out there run WordPress, like CNN.com. So when there’s huge vulnerabilities like a security hack in WordPress, it gives people the right to worry about what would happen if they are unable to access their site to post their thoughts – regardless of whether it’s for a professional or personal rant.
These are just some of the ones I was thinking about when thinking about this apocalyptic scenario. There are others that might be included in this list and would love to hear your thoughts.
What web apps do you use that you think you could not live without if it wasn’t available?