I hate bloggers and Twitter users that bandwagon something like the tragically early demise of Michael Jackson. This isn't the right platform for tributes even if I were his biggest fan anyway. Nonetheless, there is a lesson to be noted in terms of technology.
The fact is that the Internet had severe difficulties dealing with the sheer amount of traffic as people reminisced, Tweeted, fell out because of stupid conspiracy theories and soforth. Loads of people are saying the event reminded them of when Elvis died - I thought more of Lennon, but then I'm a Brit - but there was no Internet when we lost those guys. No, the event that resembles this most in Internet terms is 11 September. I know it's nowhere near the same in terms of magnitude or of someone doing something to harm others deliberately, but both events tell us something important.
The web wasn't up to carrying as much information to as many people as wanted it in 2001. At that stage nobody was surprised - even if they did have time to look at the Web falling over, it was a new medium so certain failings were to be expected when it was stretched. The thing is, a number of services people were using - Twitter, Google - started to fall over last night when the Michael Jackson reports first started. We now know the web still isn't up to carrying as much information to as many people as will want it.
You can gather a number of things from this. Most importantly you have to assume that if something big and important happens, social networks are not yet up to par for carrying the information, no matter what the hype says. On this occasion it was a singer's premature demise; if it had been a terrorist attack or some other event which was - and I say this with no disrespect to Michael Jackson or his fans - likely to have a direct effect on more people's lives, then the information wouldn't have got around quickly enough. Second, the social networks are where many people will want to go - communication, not passively receiving information, is a human instinct.
This means there's a mismatch between our wants and what's actually out there. We know this but we keep Tweeting and Googling at times of major crisis. Jackson's demise was a personal rather than global event, albeit one in which there was global interest, so there was no harm done; you can only hope that someone will notice and start to work out how to address infrastructure and service level issues before we need to communicate in a real emergency.