"Test. Test. Is This Thing On?"
Because the web has become such an important part of our daily lives, we tend to think of this digital phenomenon as stable and pretty functional day in and day out. At least that’s what we like to think.
Sure, we’ve all visited sites in the midst of server or other problems. The slow, blue download line crawls across the box and immediately you know something is wrong. (“Hope it’s not the darnedcomputer, again.”) So you click on a couple of your toolbar favorites and, sure enough, everything is running in tip-top shape. No lag time, each sites loads in a blink – except that one site you really wanted to visit. You go back, click the link again and, sure enough, the download dogs all the way.
As users, we don’t wait around for sites to get themselves back online. We have the attention span of six-year-olds juiced up on Pixie Stix. If it ain;t happening now, I’m gone. Sound familiar.
And when we bounce to another site, we quickly forget the site with the server problems. The impression we get is the web as lock-down stable when it fact the whole contraption is a collection of mish-mashed web sites, routers, cross-platform comprmoises and software that looks great on IE but terrible on Opera. Major color shift. (Fact is, a web site will look different in almost every browser based on the browser being used and the user’s preference settings.
No, if your site sees a lot of traffic 24/7 and traffic falls to zero in the matter of a few minutes, chances are your server is down. Down time is routine in a gerry-rigged compilation of data formats (Flash, HTML, XML), operating systems (Linux, Microsoft, etc.) and platforms (Mac, PC, DOS, VoIP and so on.)
The fact is, when you think about it, it’s amazing the whole W3 doesn’t disintigrate under its own weight. Thanks to the technicians who spend all of that time fixing problems and creating work-arounds, the web huffs and puffs and chuggs along. However, never believe that the W3 is stable, perminant and unassailable. It’s anything but.