Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Snap Judgments: AOL/Time Warner

First, an apology to my quick-responding Gentlemen as to the tardiness of this latest post. It was supposed to go up the day after the news broke that AOL was breaking from Time Warner to once again become an independant organization. I then spent the next several days away from my computer and was not able to make this judgment quite as snappy as I'd hoped.

Regardless, here is our gentlemenly reaction to the final last gasp of the dot com explosion.

Dan Strauss
AOL: All Outta Luck. I'm not the first person to think of this, I'm sure, but it's funny, and I'm going to take credit for it, because I didn't hear anyone say it before me, and therefore, I'm going to say I made it up. If someone else did, they can contact me, and I'll print a retraction. Actually, I wont, because really, I thought of it myself, so if two people think of something independently of each other, I don't think that's copyright infringement. I mean, there's no way I could have known someone else thought of it. Listen, the bottom line here is, AOL is screwed, yo.
John Ozkirbas
The only thing that AOL makes me think of is the dial-up modem noise that computers used to make. When my father taught me how to use the internet for the first time, he told me that I'd know I was online when that noise was made because the computer and the internet were "shaking hands." To this day, I continue to call that iconic series of cacophonous screeches the "handshake noise," much to the confusion of anyone who hears me call it that. With that said, I lack any knowledge of what would possibly happen after AOL's split from Time Warner. In fact, my immediate reaction was "whoa, whoa, whoa... AOL still exists?" My best guess is that day-to-day living probably won't change much. I mean, it's sad that AOL and Time Warner won't be shaking hands anymore (and this probably is less an active "split" and more Time Warner casting AOL off like an infected, money-hemorrhaging appendix), but I don't need handshakes to get on the internet these days. I have cable now and, instead, must deal with Comcast until Fios is available in my area. But, really - what would this actually do? I have no idea.
Jason Heat
Does anyone still actually use aol?

I don't mean that in a snarky way, I'm being totally serious - does anyone actually still aol? I can't think of anyone offhand who does, and I'm wondering what aol really is at this point. I read somewhere recently (I think Business Week?) that aol has over a hundred pages of content to offer but I have no idea what they are. Maybe someone who uses them can tell me, because I really have NO idea. My last vestige of aol use in my life is AIM - which I still think is the best messaging software around in terms of functionality, but with less and less people using it facebook chat and g-chat are starting to become my defaults. I had no idea aol still had any relevancy left.

That said, I'm happy to see the end of the deal. Time Warner is a company I have a great deal of affinity for given the intellectual property they own (DC Comics, Warner Brothers) and I'd prefer to see them healthier.
David Pratt
All my earliest memories of the internet stem from AOL. I remember blitzing through chat rooms (do those even exist anymore?) the strange novelty of Instant Messenger. When they merged with Time Warner, I, like many, was erroneously enthralled at the possibilities of the focal point of the world wide web as I knew it. Then time went on and nothing seemed to materialize.

Time Warner is a good company that probably isn't going anywhere for awhile. AOL failed to live up to any of the expectations America had for it. That merger just was not destined to last, or even produce anything really that noteworthy. Now if Time Warner had the foresight to merge with a fledgling Google, who knows what might have happened?

I'm not sure how bright AOL's future is going to be without the Time Warner machine behind it, but maybe they'll use this opportunity to reinvent themselves and become relevant again. Or maybe the once all-encompassing America Online will go the way of the tech bubble and dot com explosion it represented.

Thus, like two friends parting ways after shaking hands, another Snap Judgment comes and goes.


Jstone said...

For those of you wondering, near as I can tell AOL.com is a portal in the vein of Yahoo! or iGoogle. Basically you sign up for an account, run your email through it, instant messaging, and any RSS feeds you are particularly fond of then set it as your homepage so everything is in one neat spot when you open a browser.

It also appear that AOL is dedicated to generating its own content and it still one of the largest ISPs in the country according to this article.

I half jokingly wonder if all those AOL users are just burning up what's left of their free AOL minutes CDs from the late '90s.

Jstone said...

let me make that link clickable.