AOL is closing its Hometown service which allowed users to create their own pages hosted on the AOL servers. It’s also closing its Journal blogging service.
It shouldn’t come as a major shock given that cheap or free web hosting is widely available these days, and you can get similar services to Hometown on pretty much any social networking website.
The Journals service also seems pretty redundant given how many more popular blogging sites are available these days, from LiveJournal to WordPress to name but two. One estimate says AOL Journals has 100,000 users, a fairly small number in the wider blogosphere. The service appears to have lost a great deal of goodwill a couple of years ago when AOL added a hefty banner ad at the top of each journal, arguing it was the only way to fund the system.
The services will both close on 31 October and AOL is contacting members to explain how to save their content before it goes up in virtual flames. The suggested solutions aren’t particularly pretty: it comes down to FTPing any image files, saving individual web pages, or the every-trusty ‘cut and paste into an e-mail to yourself’.
If your current reaction is a prejudiced view of the people who remain inside AOL’s walled garden, you’re pretty much on the money. Blogs listed on AOL’s site as recently updated include comments such as:
I just found out that AOL is closing the journals. After falling out of my chair and my cat giving me CPR (no more tuna for her!) I am sitting here shocked… We all need to talk about this. It’s like moving out of the country into a big city. We lose the closeness.
Meanwhile the writer of the ‘what about me’ AOL Journal seems to have loftier issues on his mind.