Yesterday’s big news was that AIM will be shutting down in December after 20 years of service. This is not surprising - we’ve all moved on from AIM, first to Google Chat and now to the variety of smartphone messaging apps. Yet it’s incredible to think about what AIM was at its peak. I first got an account in middle school and remember it becoming the defacto way to communicate with friends throughout high school and college.
Sure, it’s easy for us to criticize AOL for not being able to capitalize on what they had and losing the messaging market but smartphones disrupted everything. At this point I find it more enjoyable to reminisce about its peak and glory instead of speculating what could have been. It introduced tens of millions of people to a digital social network and paved the way for every social network since.
I logged in earlier today to see how it’s changed and it was a ghost town. The only others online were people reacting to the shutdown news who were feeling similarly nostalgic. I haven’t logged in in so long that it was a fun game to see if I can identify who the different screen names belonged to - I like to think I got the majority correct but there were definitely a few that I couldn’t remember at all. Despite not having logged in to AIM for the better part of the last decade it’s definitely sad to see it go. At the same time I’m actually surprised that AIM is still around given that no I know has used it in years. It’s just one of those things that is past its prime but has significant nostalgic value. I wonder if anyone would have noticed if it was just quietly shut down.