Wanted: More Fail Whales

I’d been looking forward to the launch of Europeana, scheduled for yesterday. What’s Europeana? A pan-European collection of digital objects from a vast array of libraries, museums, collections and archives, covering books, magazines, film, photography, paintings, music, maps, sights, sounds.

I was travelling yesterday, and had planned to look at the site once I’d unpacked and showered, the idea being I could get a few things done before the children returned from school. But it was not to be. When I tried to get on, I was greeted by this:

Yes, it was another case of the Yogi Berra phenomenon. Nobody went there any more. It was too crowded.

I think Europeana is a great idea, and wish the people behind the project well. I hope it is a success, and look forward to using it.

I also think the failure is the shape of things to come. As more and more people get connected, swarming behaviours will get accentuated, and there is every likelihood that sites will get swamped. Of course we will learn from the swamping, we will see systems architected to deal with such behaviours, we will see the provision of infrastructure in ways that can handle such swamping.

Learning is already taking place. Animoto is pretty much the poster child of the Stampede Generation (my term for sites that experience remarkable traffic swings). Read the RightScale/Animoto story here if you’re interested; I’d heard about it some months ago; Michel Burger, then at Microsoft, tipped me off.

BTW Animoto is a great site, you should visit it. Takes your photos and music and mashes them up professionally. I met Stevie Clifton, their CTO, for the first time last week at the Harvard Cyberposium; he’s a great guy, they have a great product, and I’m sure that they will succeed.

In the meantime, we need more Fail Whales. They’re so much nicer than bland statements of unavailability.

2 thoughts on “Wanted: More Fail Whales”

  1. FWIW, this is a common occurrence as the result of interesting resources catching the attention of ubersites like Slashdot (slashdot.org) or Instapundit.com, where the phenomena even have names (slashdotting/ed and Instalanche respectively).

    Interesting to see how this interacts with cloud and utility computing moving forward.

  2. Jesse, you’re right, we’ve had the phenomenon of a stampede where an attention-focusing site like Slashdot or Techcrunch mentions a useful new resource prominently.

    But I am not aware of any such site focusing attention on Europeana yesterday, though it did get covered in traditional MSM news sites here and there.

Let me know what you think

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.