How To Keep Twitter from Crashing in a Crisis: Decentralization
Use Tumblr! :P Seriously though, this is important. The answer is to make Twitter a noun. This is accomplished by decentralization. Decentralization of the servers is a good idea and will help the system from crashing but there is another kind of decentralization that must be in place in order for Twitter or any other platform to be reliable during a crisis: The decentralization of the entire social network.
Currently, everyone on Twitter must connect to Twitter to then connect back to each other. That is not good during an emergency. That is not how blogging has evolved either, or even the whole web for that matter. There are clusters of blog software users, though for the most part, its all over the place. I have a few blogs on Moveable Type for instance which are installed on my own serves, some in New York, some in California. From time to time, I turn my laptop into a server and have hosted sites on my home machines which allow you to connect directly to me, without the need for a Twitter. In other words, if Twitter wants to adapt, anyone should be able to host their own Twitter so that they connect to any other Twitter independently if they want to. See how this changes things? Sudenly Twitters are no longer action tweets, they are individual nouns, a Twitter installed here, a Twitter installed there, here a Twitter, there a Twitter everywhere a Twitter, Twitter.
Consider how Federal Express operates. Every single package you send via FedEx in the US gets shipped to Memphis. Once its tracked in Memphis, it then gets sent to it’s destination. If you live in Dallas and you send a Fed-Ex package to near-by Houston, the package will go from Dallas all the way to Memphis and then all the way back across to Houston. It sounds crazy at first but it’s very simple and leads to less confusion and less lost packages.
But what if Memphis gets hit? The whole entire system goes down. In a time of crisis, you are either stuck in Memphis, stuck waiting on Memphis or stuck trying to get to Memphis.
On the other hand, the good ‘ol US Government delivery system or, snail mail, is much more, how shall we say, complex. Yet simply put, there is no centralized branch where all mail flows and thus should any one branch break, everything else can remain in full operation.
If you hosted your own Twitter, just like you host your own website, you could put your twitter anywhere. Case scenario: I have a twitter blog at dembot.com/twitter All of the friends I follow? How would we connect? You guessed it: RSS! Somebody get me a soda, Im feeling dizzy.
“What do you get when you combine the Internet traffic tsunami of a Steve Jobs MacWorld keynote with the uptime track record of Twitter? Not much Twittering, that’s for sure.” Datacenter Knowledge
“Downtime has become par for the course for Twitter during big news events (especially those pertaining to the tech industry, which makes up a sizable portion of the Twitter userbase), with the company having nearly 6 days of downtime in 2007 according to a recent report from Pingdom.” Mashable!
“The web will never be a mature live mass communications medium until this scalability problem for breaking news goes inexpensively away.” Kedrosky
“If a massive userbase is the key to success for Twitter, unfortunately they just failed.” CenterNetworks
“Now we know what Twitter’s good for: not much” Valleywag
“Twitter is currently experiencing some slowness related to the massive number of updates around Steve Job’s keynote at MacWorld. We’re working on it and will keep you updated!” Twitter Blog
“If Twitter wants to be taken seriously in the future, in case of emergency, decentralization of the Twitter platform is key.” Andrew Baron
“FedEx Express is the largest civil aircraft fleet in the world, and the world’s largest fleet of wide bodied civil aircraft, including the Airbus A300, Airbus A310, and Boeing DC-10, MD-10 and MD-11 models. It was the launch customer for the freight version of the superjumbo Airbus 380F, but canceled its order due to production delays. It has now ordered Boeing 777F aircraft, which will be the new flagships of the FedEx fleet. FedEx Express’s ontime to delivery error rate is lower than 2 errors per 10,000.” Link.