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This Dumb Year: The 57 Lamest Tech Moments of 2010

Progress–to swipe an ancient General Electric slogan–is the technology industry’s most important product. Its second-most important product? That’s easy: blunders. In fact, you could argue that the two are inextricably intertwined. An industry that was more uptight about making mistakes might be more cautious and therefore less inventive.

It’s also sometimes difficult to tell where progress ends and blunder begins, or vice versa. If you believe that Google Wave was a bad idea in the first place, you might think it was smart of Google to kill it this year–but if you thought Wave had promise, then it’s Google’s early cancellation that’s the gaffe.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying that while the industry’s lame moments are…well, lame, they can also be important. Last year, I summed up a decade’s worth of tech screw-ups and came up with 87 examples. This time around, I’m covering only a single year–but I found 57 items worth commemorating. No, tech companies aren’t getting more error prone; I was just more diligent. And as usual, there was plenty of ground to cover.

Thanks once again to Business 2.0’s 101 Dumbest Moments in Business and, of course, to Esquire’s Dubious Achievement Awards for inspiring this. Here we go…

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Tumblr Has Tumbled. When Will It Get Back Up?

Yesterday afternoon, popular minimalist blogging service Tumblr went down, taking every Tumblr blog with it. As I write this, the outage continues–it’s surely earned a spot in the Hall of Shame reserved for the longest, most crippling downtimes ever suffered by major Internet services.

The Tumblr folks haven’t done a great job of crisis control, either. The error message you get when you try to visit the Tumblr homepage or any Tumblr blog still talks about the site being back “shortly” and Tumblr working “quickly” to restore service. But by now, it’s clear that the outage isn’t short, and fixing things is turning out to be anything but a speedy process. In fact, the more recent of the two updates posted to Tumblr’s Twitter account says the recovery is “slow and painful.” That Tweet also says that the company is “almost through” dealing with the database issue that caused the crippling glitch. But the site remains down.

Except for truly extreme cases, even Web services that suffer extended outages generally bounce back. But I wonder if any Tumblr bloggers will take their business elsewhere as a result of this mess–or at least create a backup site for use in case of emergency?


TypePad Takes on Tumblr With Free Microblogging Feature

Six Apart’s TypePad blogging service has long been aimed at bloggers who were serious enough about what they were doing to fork over money for a blogging platform. But today Six Apart is announcing TypePad Micro, a new level of TypePad service that’s meant for extremely casual blogging–and which is the first version of the service that’s free.

Six Apart CEO Chris Alden told me that TypePad Micro is meant for quick, brief, informal blogging and photoblogging–the kind of stuff that feels like a cross between traditional blogging and status updates a la Twitter. It’s a hybrid that’s associated with Tumblr, the service that popularized microblogging, and TypePad Micro’s most obvious rival. Alden said that he thinks Micro will appeal both to paying TypePad customers who’d like a home for a microblog, and to people who are currently part of TypePad blog communities but who don’t blog themselves.

Micro is a reduced-feature version of TypePad Pro: For instance, it currently offers only one theme, called Chroma (you can customize its colors). Alden said that Six Apart might add more themes later, and that it doesn’t plan to place ads on Micro blogs. But it does see the new service as a good stepping stone to full, paid TypePad Pro accounts.

TypePad supports the concept of Twitter-like followers, and any followers a Micro blogger has are prominently displayed in the Chroma theme. So a Micro blog does, indeed, feel like a richer, semi-standalone version of a Twitter account.

A few TypePad Micro blogs:

•      Microdogging
•      Cute Funny Sexy Awful
•      Dollarshort (this one’s by Six Apart cofounder Mena Trott)
•      Awesome

And here’s Chris Alden’s own Micro blog. And Alden’s post about TypePad Micro on the official TypePad blog.

If you give the new service a try, let us know what you think…