Friday, October 8, 2010

Web services can disappear with little warning


Just as online content can vanish overnight, Web services also can be here today and gone tomorrow.
I’ve been using a service called MeeHive that lets me track niche topics and get a personal online newspaper of those interests. I’ve found it really useful. It feeds me news on subjects I’ve chosen, including wild animal attacks, the Lingerie Football League, mancations, and copyright and fair use issues.
On Thursday, MeeHive notified users via e-mail that it is shutting down the service as of Oct. 19. The owner of the site, Kosmix of Mountain View, Calif., wants to devote more resources to Tweetbeat, its social media filter.
This comes after Xmarks, a social bookmarking service, announced Sept. 27 that it was ceasing operations in about 90 days. I used Xmarks as an online backup for my Web browser bookmarks.
At least Xmarks pointed me to a similar service run by Microsoft. No such luck with MeeHive. Its e-mail offered no alternative to its customized news aggregation service.
Also, on Sept. 3, Netflix shut down its Friends and Community section and without warning deleted my customized movie lists. I spent a lot of time putting together a couple dozen lists such as movies featuring Chicago and the North Shore suburbs, good and bad remakes of foreign movies, and documentaries about the adult film industry.
Had I known those lists were going to be deleted I would have saved them somehow.
Web services are disappearing all the time. Just check out TechCrunch’s Deadpool section.
And speaking of dead Web services, three websites that used to track what sites and services were shutting down appear to have shut down as well. They are Ghost Sites of the Web, It Died and Deathwatch haven’t been updated in some time.
It figures.

This is part 19 in a series called “The Failed Promise of Digital Content.”

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