AOL still has its place

When I wrote last week about the death of AOL, I may have been premature. Maybe it’s just the start of a new chapter in AOL‘s lifespan.

Take this Washington Post story today, for proof. AOL last week screwed up and released private information about its users and how they use the company’s search engine.

Significantly, the top search term entered by AOL users is “Google.” Continue reading

AOL is dead, long live AOL

Truly, it’s the end of an era.

My first online job, way back in 1996, was as Content Editor of AOL’s Digital City Denver. It was a great time to be working on the Internet — there was a palpable sense of excitement. Everything was new, and everything was possible.

Never mind that AOL wasn’t exactly the “Internet” (many ‘Net folks pooh-poohed AOL even then), we were all missonaries preaching the online faith. Like the other handful of online companies at the time, we spent more than half of our long days meeting with potential partners, advertisers and content providers, as well as anyone who would spend the time to listen, to tell them about the Internet and how it would change their lives. Continue reading

The AOL-izing of RSS

(Note: I worked for from 2003-2006.)

No, don’t barf. I know a lot of people — especially the kind of people who read blogs, who I think are by nature technologically savvy and opinionated — hate even the concept of AOL and everything the company stands for.

But hear me out, because I truly believe that without AOL and its millions of users, the Internet wouldn’t have evolved as quickly as it has into an everyday part of our lives.

Washington Post technology writer Robert MacMillan wrote today in his “Random Access” column about RSS feeds, and how RSS is too complicated and technical to become mainstream, even though there’s a huge buzz about it in the online media.

I agree completely with him. RSS is bogged down deeply in geek quotient. Continue reading