AOL is to close its user-generated content site on 18 December.
It is providing the facility for users to move their content to another service: Motionbox, which Beet.tv describes as a ‘small New York-based video sharing site’. I wonder how long that will be around in the current harsh economic climate? There’s no word on whether AOL will redirect traffic (from Google etc.) or just keep it for itself.
Probably many AOL users won’t get around to moving their files, so their online content will be history.
The online evangelists (who often make a living talking rather than doing) claim that, thanks to the web, content will be around ‘forever’. But this is a perfect example of why that isn’t true.
It just needs someone, somewhere, to stop paying a bill or pull the plug and the content disappears. If you don’t believe me, just go through a list of bookmarks from a few years ago and see how few pages are still there.
It may seem that a particular video is’out there’ all over the place. But often just one service hosts the video file, while dozens of pages embed it. Archive.org stores web pages, but mainly just text. It pulls images and other files from the original sites.
Shut-downs like this are going to be especially bad for anyone who has recorded content direct to a website using their webcam. As they’re much less likely to have a copy of their content on their own hard-drive.