When Gmail went down suddenly for corporate customers on Sept. 14, the Statesman and every other paper in McClatchy, our company, could neither send nor receive email.
Our CEO, Patrick Talamantes, tweeted, “Gmail being down is an exercise to drive creativity in how you work. It’s truly an opportunity. Seize it.”
I tried to seize it. I really did.
I direct-messaged colleagues on Twitter. One reporter did not check his Twitter feed. Strike 1. I tried messaging a photographer. He could not get my message because he does not follow me on Twitter. (Sigh.) Strike 2. A second reporter’s phone immediately chimed. 1 for 3.
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I tried Slack, an office communications service that offers chat-like conversations. Slack beats email for real-time group discussion, but our newsroom is still learning it. I messaged a third reporter. No reply. I messaged the photographer. No reply. 0 for 2.
I tried text messaging fellow editor Jason Lantz, using text-to-speech on my iPhone. “Kyle did a nice job solving the video problem,” I dictated. The phone beeped five or six times. Apple typed: “Tio put.”
I put my phone back in my pocket. It became warm. My battery power was falling fast.
Colleagues turned to their personal Gmail accounts, which were not affected by the outage. I did too. When one Gmail account goes down, be creative and ... use another Gmail account.
As the morning went on, the people I tried to message came into the newsroom one by one. I walked up and talked to them. Face to face. It felt so 1991.
After more than a day of this, Google finally fixed the problem. Our work Gmail returned Sept. 15. Thank goodness. I’d had enough creativity for awhile.