For a while on Wednesday morning, I was Yahoo Messenger-less. Actually, me and most of my colleagues were, and it was no fun.
I was out of the office and needed to ping my editor about something quick and I couldn't. I sent him an e-mail instead and noticed a lot of messages in my in-box from coworkers with similar stories of woe.
We've come to rely heavily on the ability to communicate with each other over IM, shooting quick messages back and forth like digital taps on the shoulder. I know that if my editor is staring at his screen (which he is always doing) that I can get his attention quick. And I can expect a fast response, except for when I ping a certain co-worker who rudely ignored my IM recently, claiming to be "in the middle of something" when I followed up later.
My intent is not to point fingers (Michael Kanellos), but to comment on how we have come to depend on this technology so heavily, in our professional lives as much as in our personal lives. Yahoo Messenger is a vital work tool and when it's not available things slow down.
We still managed to get stories posted to our site, but we all felt a little...disadvantaged.
Thankfully, Yahoo fixed the problem by midday (at least for us on the West Coast) and we were back to our fast-paced, multi-tasking humming along.
I asked Yahoo, "What's up?" A Yahoo representative e-mailed me this statement:
"For a brief period this morning, a fraction of Yahoo Messenger users experienced log-in problems due to back-end maintenance. We take these issues seriously and we have identified the problem and corrected it. We know that this may have caused some inconvenience, and we apologize to our users who might have been affected."
In a follow up discussion with Yahoo I learned that more than half of the Yahoo Messengers users who tried to log in to the service between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. Pacific Time were likely impacted. Some maintenance work on the company's overall network inadvertently affected the Messenger log-in servers, the Yahoo spokeswoman said.
This isn't the first Yahoo outage that has inconvenienced people--for instance, Yahoo Mail and Messenger went down almost exactly a year ago, as well as at least once earlier this year. And I've survived even longer outages with Gmail, Outlook and other services. But this time it moved me in a way it hadn't before. Maybe because I felt more needy; I couldn't just holler across the office to my editor like I usually do when IM is down. Or maybe it was because I hadn't yet had coffee, and I'm prone to fits of sensitivity when I haven't had my morning mocha.