Twitter's growing pains

Twitter, according to the Twitter Fan Wiki, is "a way of life." Twitter has its own fan wiki. Twitter is growing, and we're feeling the pain as it buckles under the pressure.

As I write this, the Twitter home page is down and I'm wondering why my little Friend or Follower tool, which, surprisingly, uses just the official Twitter API, suddenly stopped working yesterday. And, just last week, Twitter removed core Ajax functionality so that you now have to refresh (Web 1.0-style) to see new updates (the responsiveness of the site improved considerably after they did this). These symptoms, coupled with the ballooning popularity of the service seems to indicate that Twitter is not scaling well. The real question is: Is this a passing cold or terminal bird flu? In other words, is Twitter scalable, is it sustainable and will it recover?

Personally, I hope that the answers to all those questions are a resounding yes. Twitter is the first so-called "2.0" app or "social network" that has actually kept my attention. It's the only web app, apart from Google, that I use every day. It is, dare I say it, fun!

Critics of Ruby on Rails will no doubt take this opportunity to question the abilities of the new kid on the block as RoRites counter that Rails scales very well thank-you-very-much!.

I'd hazard a guess that the current issues have more to do with Twitter's developers being overwhelmed by the astronomic growth rate of their member base than the underlying technology. Obvious's recent announcement that they are selling Odeo so they can concentrate on Twitter also strengthens my belief that they are struggling with development resources. Last week's update to split the loading of the various assets to different servers and the removal of core Ajax functionality had all the hallmarks of a short-term knee-jerk attempt to stave off catastrophic failure.

Of course, I hope that I'm completely wrong on all this and that Twitter is currently down because they're rolling out a new update to address these issues.

Here' wishing the Twitter development team the best of luck during these growing pains. Hang in there!

Get well soon, Twitter! We love you :)