Wednesday, October 01, 2008

AOL DOA WTF?

"A conclusion is simply a place where someone got tired of thinking."

-Unknown

Before the official AOL email arrived in my inbox yesterday, the word had already gotten around. AOL Journals is closing it's doors on October 31st of this year. You know, I wasn't terribly surprised. AOL announced over the summer, July actually, that they were doing away with AOL Pictures and so it crossed my mind that the Journals community probably wouldn't be far behind. It was just common sense in that it would make it more difficult to be creative with the journals. Still, when I heard the news yesterday, I felt sad to a degree. Not for me, but for all the folks who have shown such fervent loyalty to AOL over the years. A lot has happened, and I think that AOL has once again that they are dead last in terms of customer loyalty.

When the mad Exodus To Blogger happened, on November 15th 2005, some things changed. Pardon what I am about to say, but AOL (the corporation) displayed a FUCK YOU attitude toward their customers, and for many of us it was the last straw. A Journal or Blog is a very personal thing for most folks. It represents an important part of a person, and to not be given a choice in something as important as to who is advertising on one's blog, or even if someone is advertising on a blog is also a very important thing. To some folks it wasn't a big deal, but to others it represented selling of one's creativity to the highest bidder. AOL never got that. It was merely another place to sell advertisements. Period. Money, it seems, will always... always be the bottom line.

How AOL (the corporation) felt didn't make any difference to me, but how AOL (the people who made up the Journals Community) did. I was saddened by all the hard feelings that were expressed. I never stopped loving the community, but I didn't love AOL and somehow, at times, I felt like... well... I was some kind of turncoat for doing nothing more then changing my journal address. I stopped letting it hurt my feelings that some folks decided not to follow me over here. Folks were always welcome to come and visit, or join in the Round Robins any time they wanted. And eventually some of my dear friends did comeback to me. I am hoping when folks make the next big exodus, they will look me up, or send me their new links. There is a good chance we can repair whatever damage was done, by doing nothing more then extending our hands to each other and saying "Welcome Back Into My Life Old Friend, It's As If No Time Has Passed." At least that is my hope.

I imagine that most folks over on AOL are a bit shell shocked today. I know how they feel. It can't be easy to find out that you are being evicted, and you have 30 days to gather up your memories and get out! For some it will mean 5 years of memories. The part that makes me just heartsick, it the loss of Pam's journal, and Frank's journal. I loved those two people very much, and even after their deaths I would visit from time to time just to be close them. To read the words they wrote. At the end of the month, it will be like they never existed on AOL at all. I wish there was some way of bringing them along, but there isn't. And it probably wouldn't be right to. Sigh. I still miss Slomo It's going to be hard knowing that I will probably never hear from her again.

It's a very sad situation. However, it doesn't have to stay a sad situation. If you are about to become a new AOL refugee, please know how very welcome you are over here on Blogger. Please know you are more then invited to join us for the Round Robin Challenges, and the Monday Photo Shoot. It is the very same project John Scalzi ran for years, and as always, everyone is invited to play. I would like to see some wounds heal, and I am here to help in that. If you are going to be new to Blogger, and need some help, send me an email and I will do my best to help out. The neighborhood might be different, but the community is what's important... right?

-Carly


10 comments:

Far Side of Fifty said...

Hi Carly well said! I hope I did not step on anyones toes the other day by listing my comments to the AOL users on my comments page for the Monday Photo Shoot. I did not want to leve them out, but I also did not want to join AOL just to make comments either. Sad, Sad thing when blogs are lost into cyberspace forever:(

Greg Kiser (homeless) said...

Carly, I am a new AOL refugee, and one that just doesn't have it in him right at the moment to start over. You see, it is not only my four journals that are lost, I have now lost my entire gallery...I have nothing online anymore...over 400 pictures gone, just like that. Around 30 pages of website thrown away in the trash. Three years of gaining search engine cred....out the door. I'm beat and battered.

Greg

Shelly said...

Nice post, Carly.

A few things. AOL ceased being a corporation the moment it merged with TimeWarner and became AOL TimeWarner and that was a disaster. TW folks took over the company and reasserted the TW brand and forced AOL into being a division or some such. And a money losing one at that. The handwriting's been on the wall a long time.

I really feel for the people who stuck with AOL through all the uncertainty. Many blog services have ads, but most (LiveJournal, for one) have opt-out alternatives if you want to pay for pro accounts. And ads are how many blogging services support themselves. Google has ads elsewhere and removed ads that were on BlogSpot blogs after they bought Pyra Labs and called the service Blogger. For Google, AdSense apparently works better for them than ads at the top of the blogs the way they used to be, back when I got my first BlogSpot Blog, about a week after my first AOL Journal.

I don't think ads on AOL were a problem. It was the callous way they were added, especially since AOL for years had been a paid service to start with.

When AOL merged with TW, any feeling of community on AOL was gone. Making money became the name of the game and free journals, ftp space, and message boards, even with ads, don't generate enough money, I guess.

These days, AOL is trying to reinvent itself and TW is probably looking to sell it. AOL might one day be something entirely different or cease to exist. I'm waiting for them to decide IM/AIM isn't worth keeping around, either.

I hope the new refugees take you up on your offer of reconciliation and I'll refrain from telling them, "Told ya so." :)

jennifer said...

Carly, you are, as you always have been, so generous. I'll be sipping coffee with Shelly, knowing for three years that this day was going to come, that the ones who stayed would get the same level of respect that we were given in 2005 and hope that all of them find new homes, trying very hard not to tell them "told ya."

I have told my two remaining AOL friends that they will like it better here anyway, once the "newness" becomes routine.

Hope you're well.

alphawoman said...

When I read Frank, Pam and SloMo's name I choked up. It's been a long strange trip. I wonder who is really left in AOL from the old days? So many screen names come to mind who either closed thier jnls or went private. I did the politcal thing and kept one jnl on two servers, lol.

alphawoman said...

PS Jennifer has a blog??????? I thought she had gone all corporate on us with her American Idol obsession. (just kidding Jennifer, I bet you are raking it in...lol) And I miss reading your grandmonster stories.

Kiva said...

Too bad AOL didn't provide a way to download all those journals and photos and another blog service didn't provide a way to upload the AOL stuff. A lot of wonderful moments have been lost. And TW wonders why we all abandoned AOL like rats on a sinking ship?

Karen Funk Blocher said...

It's all very sad, but I'm hoping people who are upset and discouraged now will decided not to let this corporate decision stop them from blogging. Kiva, they ARE supposedly going to provide a way to port AOL Journals into Blogger. The rumor is that it will create a new blog, not allow adding to an existing one; but it's a lot better than nothing. I'm not sure what happens with the photos on the blog entries if they're hosted by AOL, but maybe those will move into Blogger's Picasa photo albums. We'll just have to see.

Unhinged said...

Oh, geeze, now I feel badly about my flippant goodbye. Like Mary, I got all choked up reading this entry, too.

I hope AOL does make it easy for everyone to switch their entries over. Change doesn't always have to be a bad thing, right? I know it's scary and painful sometimes, but once the hurt and fear is gone, I've found a reason for it all. And acceptance.

Big hugs to all the AOL Journalers.

Andi

Martha said...

Hi Carly,
Thank you for your words of wisdom. I was one who decided to stay with AOL, but thankfully I've ventured over here to blogger because of the photo challenges, have made some great new friends and hooked back up with some from the old J-land days. I think it's all going to work out just fine. I've wanted to move in over here for a long time, but didn't want to lose all my J-Land friends. People are generally so resistant to change that most didn't follow even to read or comment back in the days of the mass exodus (it confused most of us who had never been beyond AOL, seriously! LOL!). Looks like we're all moving in now! I think change is good - more new friends for all! :-)
By the way, add the new "follow me" feature to your blog!!