March 2nd, 2011

The things we love are going to die: thoughts on the death of a web property

Let’s all just face facts.

Someday, the app you’re in love with will wither away. It will be purchased by someone bigger, snatched up for resources, devoured for nutrients and left as a pile of dung alongside the road, forgotten but for a footnote on a Wikipedia page.

Someday, one of those sites you check EVERY DAY will go away, because not everyone loves it as much as you, and that includes the people in charge of it, and oh, man, if you only you could learn the skills necessary to SAVE IT you’d be fine.

And then, after saving it, you’d realize how much work it is to keep it up. You’d begin to love it less. You’d see it as a JOB. You’d sell it to Yahoo. With a quick stab of the exclamation point, it would die.

Web Things Die, Dude

We know this because we’ve seen it. We’ve seen it so many times.

The things we love? They’re all going to die.

I love Flickr. I understand that it’s going to die.

I loved Delicious. I understand that it had to die.

I now look with a wary eye at AllMusic.com – a site I’ve been using as an encyclopedic resource for as long as I’ve been involved with the Internet – as it’s rolled into some behemoth of an entertainment site called AllRovi.com.

I understand these things because I’m beginning to see how the web works.

Apps Are Not Communism

The idea of creating a site or app or some kind of web property with the intention of staying humble and simply creating for creation’s sake – to leave a mark on not just the minds of those who visit, but on the very structure of the web itself – is like Communism: incredibly noble and honorable in theory, horribly flawed in practice.

Being humble is how you make friends and gain followers. Unfortunately, being humble brings in no money.

The people who create the things we love? They need money. Because they’re not just creating things we love. They’re working. They’re making a living. It’s no wonder that the, the lure of money rarely dissuades those who have created something special.

They have families and futures. No one wants to become Pets.com. It’s hard to blame them.

I would love to spend time at South by Southwest this year. I’d love to walk among real innovators. To brush shoulders with people I admire, people I’d emulate if I even knew where to start. To be a part of something noble and fun and powerful: the collection of fresh minds and big ideas and just on the cusp notoriety.

I’m afraid, though. Afraid I’d see someone and instantly wonder how their product scales. Afraid I’d question their business model before considering their innovation model.

Someday, Flipboard will go away. Twitter will go away. Pandora will go away.

The sites we love, they will all go away.

Which means we need to cherish the relationships we have now. Appreciate them for what they are now.

Then, we store them away in our memory, and move on.

Category: Web

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