NEW YORK--Legendary businesswoman Martha Stewart wanted to post to her Twitter account from a panel discussion onstage on Wednesday, and she couldn't. A particularly nasty edition of one of Twitter's notorious service outages got in the way.
Stewart, along with Huffington Post founder and new-media figurehead Arianna Huffington, was participating in an onstage interview conducted by veteran tech journalist Kara Swisher at the "Digital Content NewFront," an annual event conducted by ad agency Digitas as part of Internet Week New York. Swisher commented on the fact that Stewart was toying with the iPad she was holding as the panel was starting. Stewart said in response, "I was trying to tweet, but Twitter is having an error."
"What a shock," Swisher quipped.
Indeed, Twitter had been suffering from a notably bad service outage on Tuesday and particularly Wednesday morning, one that knocked out access to its application program interface (API) for many third-party services, and also put the "fail whale"--Twitter's iconic error message--on the Twitter.com home page for quite some time. Some of the trending topics on Twitter included "stupid whale," "Twitter over capacity," and "ballenita," the Spanish term for "little whale."
"We are experiencing site availability issues--additional latency and errors--this morning," Twitter confirmed in a post on its status blog on Wednesday morning, disabling some site features in an attempt to keep its service afloat. At 10:34 a.m. PDT, Twitter posted an update to say that the issues had been resolved.
Twitter outages are hardly newsworthy given the site's history of unfortunate instability, but this one comes at an especially inopportune time. Twitter has been making one move after another to establish itself as a more robust, feature-heavy, and ultimately profitable service in the wake of the series of announcements at its developer conference this spring; these revealed it had chosen a path for making money and would also be building new features that heretofore had been the domain of third-party services built on top of its API. The most recent one, which the company announced earlier this week, is an in-house URL shortener. The new, buttoned-up, run-like-a-real-business Twitter doesn't have the room for "latency" that it did a few years ago.
Twitter now has 190 million users, chief operating officer Dick Costolo said earlier this week during another Internet Week conference in New York, and 65 million tweets are posted per day. But, obviously, this means absolutely nothing if Martha Stewart is unable to tell the world what she's doing.