Tumblr takes a tumble, stumbles back to life

Tumblr is back online after an hours-long outage Friday morning.

Just a week following its last outage, Tumblr on its Twitter account said it was “experiencing network problems” due to an issue with one of the site’s uplink providers.

According to service monitoring site Down Right Now, the outage began shortly after 8 a.m. EDT on Friday.

Tumblr logo

Shortly after 2 p.m. EDT, Tumblr tweeted that the site was back online and a “full postmortem regarding today’s service interruption will follow.” No explanation has yet been posted.

The Internet is having a rough week. Amazon Web Services Monday experienced an outage that took down Netflix, Pinterest, Reddit, Airbnb, and Flipboard, among others hosted on the service.

Dropbox and Google App Engine were down for some but operational for others on Friday morning, and some users reported issues with YouTube as well. Even Apple had issues this week with its iMessage service. iOS users reported a Thursday afternoon outage, though Apple didn’t confirm or clarify the reasons behind the glitch.

Internet Traffic Report documented significant packet loss and a steep dip in Web traffic across North America on Friday morning, though it’s unclear what caused the anomalies, and it seems things are back to normal.

The outages have thus far been unrelated. Tumblr’s outage last week was due to issues with its Dashboard, while Amazon Web Services had server trouble at its Virginia data center.

Why do outages freak some users?

The response to these outages, some of which last for less than an hour, may say more about the always-on nature of the Internet than about the sites themselves. Tumblr users took to Twitter to mourn the site’s absence in either snarky (“I can’t post my new ‘tumblr-is-down’ gif because tumblr is down”) or plaintive (“tumblr is still down why am I breathing”) tones.

The pitfalls of living in a constantly connected culture have been well documented. Speaking in a March TED talk, Professor Sherry Turkle of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said people turn to social networking platforms to feel connected and understood.

“That feeling that ‘no one is listening to me’ makes us want to spend time with machines that seem to care about us,” said Turkle, who studies the way technology is changing the way humans interact with each other.

When Tumblr and Pinterest are unavailable, when iMessages stop working for a few hours, stream of connections are severed, even if only briefly.

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