Living in an Online Fish Bowl

MissingEarlier this week my WebWorkerDaily editor, Simon Mackie, disappeared for over 24 hours. No Twitter updates in 2 days from @spiky_simon. His IM status showed that he was last seen over a day ago. What really tipped me off to his disappearance was a quick glance at the WebWorkerDaily post queue. Only two posts on Monday and by early Tuesday morning, no posts had been scheduled for the rest of the day on Tuesday. All of this with a pending queue of over a dozen posts just waiting to be published! This is the online equivalent of the newspapers piling up on the doorstep of the person who is trapped inside of their house under an avalanche of neglected recycling.

We worried. We panicked. We sent emails that went unanswered. I began imagining the worst. Had he been kidnapped by a rival blog network with plans to torture him to learn our secrets? Those guys over at ReadWriteWeb can be pretty devious*, so they were my prime suspects. I was just getting ready to organize a Twitter flash mob to storm the castle of our blog rivals to see if we could get him back when I was stopped in my tracks by an email. An email from Simon: “Sorry, I should have let everyone know. I’m at a GigaOM offsite meeting.”

Oh well, so much for my conspiracy theories.

This is bound to happen when we work online all day with other people that we only see online. I know that I am not the only one with fleeting thoughts about friends and coworkers who drop offline for a few days (or hours) wondering why they had been offline for so long. Are they OK? What could they possibly being doing that would require so many disconnected hours?

Admit it, you’ve had similar thoughts once or twice.

* Disclaimer: I know quite a few of the ReadWriteWeb authors, and they are some of the nicest people I know. They would never really kidnap Simon, but it makes for fun speculation.