The disruption in the services of Google occurring on December 14, 2020, caused a global uproar. Within moments of the outage, users complained about the unavailability of several services. Some reported that Gmail’s address bar was not working properly. According to Google, the disruption occurred at 3:47 AM PT because of an internal storage quota issue. The services of Google were non-operational for nearly 45-minutes. This incident reveals the extent of services that are related to Google. Individuals, companies and professionals from all industries have been actively using Google’s services such as Drive, Sheets, and Classroom among others. Businesses and content creators use YouTube while other services including Ads, Blogger, Chat, Charts, Maps, Analytics and Workspace are also frequently used across the world. Within a few minutes of the digital blackout, Google received reports of the same from the US, Canada, Middle East, South Asia, Far East Asia and Australia.
While technology and digital media have been facilitating us to pursue effective communication and completion of personal and professional tasks, it has also made us too dependent on the digital system. We are truly living in a virtual world today; one that is without a doubt operating in parallel with our physical, real world. A digital blackout—even for ten minutes—stirs and shakes users across the world. Concerns and doubts arise when Google-related services and networks do not respond and when their corresponding websites are inaccessible. Communication is the primary objective Google-related systems and products help us achieve. From sending emails to sharing data on Sheets, from sharing files of large sizes through the Drive to finding a route on Maps, Google has linked humans with a computer or a smartphone. This connection will only evolve with time. The presence of Google Chrome, a cross-platform web browser, on our desktops, laptops, and smartphones is evidence of Google’s mission to be connected with everyone who is surfing the Internet.
The world accepted and appreciated the importance of Google’s services during the lockdown implemented in March because of Covid-19. The transition from doing work at school/college/university and offices to work-from-home was smooth. The daily operations at offices and in the corporate sector remained unaffected as people were communicating, collaborating, and working online. Because of the holistic strategic appeal, Google’s cross-platform applications, services, and products worked seamlessly on all gadgets. Interestingly, many of Google’s products such as Sheets, Classroom, and Meet were operational for years; people treasured their utility when they had to use them during the lockdown. Faculty members easily uploaded lectures on YouTube and many connected with students through Google Classroom. Professionals shared data through Google Sheets that each receiver was able to edit accordingly. Such an all-inclusive mechanism to work remotely while staying connected was surely an impossible idea two decades ago.
It is without a doubt a blessing to be living in such times where our plans, activities, and decisions are supported by the miracles of modern technology. However, the downside of such a tech-based system is the outage that disconnects us from the grid. The moment such an event occurs, where the tech services are no longer available, we feel stranded. It is a feeling of despair and feebleness. It feels as if we are living in the 1990s when the most advanced equipment in our homes and offices were a fax machine, a digital calculator, or a personal computer that seems primitive when comparing with the smartphones available today. It is indeed a frightening thought to imagine life without Google and its associated products and services. Our absolute dependency on such a system, based on trust, will continue to be such in the years to come. However, one can always save data in USB drives for safekeeping just in case.