R.I.P. Ficlets

>> Monday, January 19, 2009

As many of you may already know, AOL pulled the plug on Ficlets January 15th. And when I say "pull the plug," I mean that going to the former Ficlets site doesn't even get you to a dead or defunct site, it gets you redirected to AOL's announcement that Ficlets will die on January 15th, no explanation as to how or why.

It was a free service, and AOL can do what they want, but I will say this: when you're an corporation that provides internet services with a history of corporate and financial problems, it really doesn't generate goodwill or confidence to close down services you provide with what appears to be complete arbitrariness, especially when the service in question cannot possibly cost a whole helluva lot to maintain and effectively generates free content/value for you. I mean, the major lesson I'm drawing from this is that I'm glad the only data I had entrusted to AOL consisted of short thousand-character bursts of mostly-mediocre fiction, and I hope that Google (owner of Blogger) will do me better (and I suspect they will--Google doesn't seem to be floundering around trying to figure out how the internet works, and every free blog they host generates content that improves the value of their primary product, the Google search engine, by giving users more things to search for and therefore more reasons to use Google and therefore more eyes on the sidebar and header ads; neat how that works, no?).

I haven't routinely posted to Ficlets in ages, so I have to admit the end wasn't so much of a blow. I'd abandoned the place long before it could be considered to have abandoned me, for a variety of reasons (including the fact that it seemed to have been overrun by kids, many of whom--grouchy old man alert--wrote burst fiction with the same effort they put into txt msgng, k?1). But the site was valuable to me when it started: the regular writing and positive feedback gave me a shot of self-confidence I'd still lack if it hadn't been for Ficlets.

Kevin Lawver, who originally developed the site, has ported over all of the Ficlets archive to his own site, if you want to see what people were doing or if you want to revisit something you contributed to the site and maybe forgot about. Lawver has a noble heart and brave spirit, but I suspect he may be fighting a losing battle to keep the patient alive; nonetheless, my hopes are with him and I hope to be proven wrong about the previous comment. As for my own grab-bag of contributions: I wrote at Ficlets under the nom-de-plume "Howie Amourscow,"2 and that archive can be found here if you really care. Some of them aren't half bad, if I may say so myself, however more than a few aren't half good, either.

And to all those who were there in the day and all those who were there at the end: keep writing in good health and a reasonable daily word count. My best to you.

1And that, sadly, was the very first and very last time Eric managed to sound like Harlan Ellison.

2It's dumb. In PKD's Valis, PKD's alter-ego is one Horselover Fat: "horselover" being the translation of the Greek name "Philip" and "Dick" being the German for "fat."

"Amour" is, of course, French for "love," and if you check Roget's for synonyms for "craft" you find that one type of craft mentioned is a scow. Ha. Ha. Ha. Get it? Told you it was stupid.

Today, I'd register for something like Ficlets under my own name, fuck it. Privacy is an illusion (vast amounts of personal information about me can readily be found via Google) and, more importantly, the feedback I got at Ficlets informed me that complete and utter strangers could enjoy something I'd written. That latter is the biggest portion, really: I used a pseudonym at Ficlets partly because I was terrified of rejection. These days, I don't know if my writing's gotten better or worse--sometimes I think I'm getting too self-indulgent here at Giant Midgets--but at least I'm proud to call it mine.


Janiece Murphy Monday, January 19, 2009 at 12:27:00 PM EST  

Speaking only for myself, self-indulgence in your own space is not necessarily a bad thing.

When you get self-indulgent, I simply skip the entry.

You can't please everyone all the time, after all.

MWT Monday, January 19, 2009 at 4:00:00 PM EST  

Yeah, I copy/pasted all of mine out of there when the announcement was first made, along with any stories that were associated with mine. Managed to get two blog posts out of them. ;)

Ficlets was a fun little diversion while it lasted. It's a good idea, and someone else will probably have the same idea at some point later, and set it up again. Though I agree about all the kids that just dashed stuff off without much thought. You get that anywhere where there's a creativity-based community though - Tegaki and Devart are like that too. It just takes a bit of extra effort to find the people doing stuff you enjoy.

For Ficlets, I was mostly just writing along with a couple other people from another writing community, and while it was amusing to read the comments that landed on them from Ficlet regulars, they weren't the main reason we were there.

Jerimrl Monday, January 19, 2009 at 9:16:00 PM EST  

I never wrote a whole lot of ficlets - but I enjoyed the few I did write. I was one of the first members of the site.

Like you, I really liked some of mine - and some of them were fairly stinky.

I downloaded the ones that could stand alone and put them on my site, but the ones that were part of a series I didn't.

For all that I rarely played - I'm sad to see it go.

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