It seems like Michael Jackson and more importantly his reach and fan base, is actually bigger than the Internet can handle. The king of pop’s demise brought the Internet to a standstill this week as Google interpreted the spike in searches for his name as a malware attack and users querying it received an error message for a period of around 25 mins. Microblogging tool twitter crashed through the sheer volume of users logging on to the service and performance issues were reported on usually reliable services such as AOL, Yahoo and CNN.
It takes some sort of surge to bring down Google and it is difficult to think of any other occurrence other than some sort of natural disaster which would have had the same sort of effect on the Internet in a 24 hour period. It is surely also making the affected services question their ability to handle large volumes of traffic in a short period of time, it would appear that in exceptional circumstances, their infrastructure simply isn’t up to the task.
This instance also shows a changing shift in how people are turning to the Internet for up to date information. As SERPs speed up their indexing, and twitter continues to be the go to location for breaking news, when people hear of a news story in passing, their immediate response is to head to the nearest Internet service, be that mobile or computer based, and use the web to find out the details of said story. In times gone by the answer would have been to turn on the TV, or wait for the next scheduled news bulletin, but in a time of immediacy this is no longer quick enough. if you want an answer now, you turn to twitter or the SERPs.
Undoubtedly the question will come in future years, “where were you when you heard about jacko?” And for many people it appears the answer will be “I was at my computer when somebody twittered it”.
It is an ironic fact, that after his unfortunate demise last week at the age of 50. Michael Jackson will sell enough records in the next few weeks, and earn enough radio airtime to erase the debt problems caused by years of frivolity and legal bills from fighting off child abuse accusations. You cant turn on the radio it seems at the moment without hearing a Michael Jackson song, he has no fewer than 14 singles in the itunes top 20, 9 albums in the itunes top 10, and music stores such as HMV have big displays of his work around shops.
Jacko will go down in history as one of the greats, and will hopefully be remembered for his musical brilliance rather than his car crash personal life, but he may also go down as the man who brought the Internet to its knees.