The Nightmare of the Cloud

Social networking Web site Twitter was unavailable for roughly two hours Thursday morning after being hit by a denial of service attack.

Twitter went down at about 9:30 a.m. ET. It was back up by 11:30 a.m. ET, but access to has remained spotty since then, with frequent network timeouts.

“On this otherwise happy Thursday morning, Twitter is the target of a denial of service attack,” Twitter Chief Executive Biz Stone told in an e-mail. “Attacks such as this are malicious efforts orchestrated to disrupt and make unavailable services such as online banks, credit card payment gateways, and in this case, Twitter for intended customers or users.”

David Goldman, staff writer, Thursday August 6, 2009,Twitter goes down from denial of service attack

I have a lot of experience with computer assisted instruction, and the one sure thing is that the technology is unreliable. Hardware troubles, network troubles, software troubles: if a problem can happen, it will happen. I used to tell my students that it was like driving a car in the 1920s. The technology was just not mature enough to be reliable.

Part of the problem is that administrators and sometimes teachers too often underestimate the need for technical support. Computers are advertised as little miracles that basically run themselves. In real life, network problems, hardware problems, software problems. It’s almost impossible for a teacher to keep up with it all. We need real-time support and knowledgeable human beings.

The latest miracle is the Cloud. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Marketing and hopeful administrators will tell us that this is the solution, and that it requires less money because it requires much less maintenance and very little support. Twtter ought to be a wake up call. It’s not true. It can’t be true.

Educators should resist centralization as another instance of outsourcing and as a further downsizing of the intellectual capabilities of schools. Cloud technology ensures that we won’t have local people around who are experienced and knowledgeable enough to help us out when the system inevitably fails. We’ll have voice mail instead; we won’t make knowledge, we’ll buy it at discount.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

3 Thoughts on “The Nightmare of the Cloud

  1. Are you a professional journalist? You write very well.

  2. This is the second entry I read tonight. And I am on my third. Got to think which one is next. Thank you.

  3. Hmm… I read blogs on a similar topic, but i never visited your blog. I added it to favorites and i’ll be your constant reader.

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