In a post stamped "1 hour ago" at 9:15 a.m. PDT, Twitter's status blog reported that "the site is back up, but we are continuing to defend against and recover from this attack." This blog was able to log in then, and found posts as old as "30 minutes ago," though I hadn't been able to log in just before 9 a.m.
Meanwhile, Mashable reports that Facebook also suffered outages Thursday morning, "although fortunately less frequent ones." Reporters and commenters at CNET News and Wired.com also reported problems with Facebook. Mashable's Pete Cashmore writes that the likely cause of Facebook's stagger was users flooding the site when they couldn't log in to Twitter.
(Update: Mashable reports that Facebook and Google were also hit by distributed denial-of-service attacks.)
So, if Twitter is such a big part of the Future -- not to mention the present -- of Journalism, what does it mean that an attack can silence it?
"Attacks such as this," wrote Twitter co-founder Biz Stone in a blog post Thursday, "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."
There's always somebody with an interest in silencing the news, right?
What it means is we need a new Twitter. That is, we need something to replace or augment or complement Twitter so that the resource -- short bursts of real-time information -- isn't so centralized, so easily attacked and silenced. We need a lot of Twitters.
"Centralized networks are especially vulnerable to DOS [denial of service] attacks," wrote Dave Winer of Scripting News this morning. Winer, a pioneer in RSS among many other things, often tweets that it's not good for one company to own a platform.
"Loosely-coupled networks can do better," he continued today. "I wanted to post that to Twitter, but it's under attack. Not a joke, but something to continue to think about, planning for the future."
Twitter got itself back on its feet quickly this morning, and that's a good thing. And while a denial of service attack is a bad thing, the kind of thing bad people do, this one could lead to a positive aftermath. If enough Twitter users were shocked this morning into realizing they've become too dependent on a single, central entity, we'll be on our way to the decentralization we need.
Isn't that what the Internet is all about?