Here are eye-catching illustrations of why GoogleFail, this morning’s slowdown/outage of numerous Google services, was a Very Big Deal. Above, you can see how much data was transferred by 10 different internet service providers monitored by security company Arbor Networks. Below, you can see traffic to sites run by MerchantCircle, which manages the internet presence for 750,000 local businesses. Those dips, of course, correspond with the outage, and while we here at VentureBeat believe the phrase “falls of a cliff” is overused, well …

Granted, these two charts are an apples-to-oranges comparison, but that’s kind of the point — regardless of whether you’re an ISP or a mom-and-pop store, you’re at Google’s mercy. That’s why it’s a bit dodgy to compare this outage to Twitter’s regular downtime last year, or to the occasional outages experienced by Amazon Web Services, or even the damage wrought when individual Google services like Gmail fail.

Google, incidentally, has posted an explanation for the failure, saying, “An error in one of our systems caused us to direct some of our web traffic through Asia.” Trying to be cute and Google-y, the post uses a metaphor of a pilot being rerouted to Asia, but either intentionally or unintentionally, the language underlies how terrifyingly reliant we all are on the search giant. When an airplane pilot has problems, everyone on the flight is in serious trouble.

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