A Google spokesperson told us, "We're investigating reports of an issue with Google Docs. We will provide more information when appropriate." The range of subject matters and number of reports suggest it's probably just a glitch, but the problem is a reminder of what we give up for the convenience and ease offered by cloud-based programs like Docs. Google Docs and others like it allow users to store their work offline, making it easily accessible wherever they happen to be. They also make it easy to share documents between a number of different people. But giving up control over your work comes with risks, as today's issues make clear. And though they're fairly rare, they can cause huge problems.
For example, Twitter user @widdowquinn said that while they had been encouraging others to use Google Docs for collaborative work on grants and academic papers, today's glitch is a deal breaker.
Unfortunately, a pen and paper, though reliable, just won't cut it these days. So you'll have to figure out what you're willing to give up and what risks you're willing to take when it comes to storing, sharing and accessing your work.
Update: Google has sent us a statement regarding the lock-outs. "This morning, we made a code push that incorrectly flagged a small percentage of Google Docs as abusive, which caused those documents to be automatically blocked. A fix is in place and all users should have full access to their docs," said a company spokesperson. "Protecting users from viruses, malware, and other abusive content is central to user safety. We apologize for the disruption and will put processes in place to prevent this from happening again."