The blogging and social media platform Posterous will be closing, April 30, 2013, almost a full year after its acquisition by the social media giant Twitter. Some would say that Posterous’s existence has been in a state of limbo since that acquisition; according to LifeHacker blogger Alan Henry, Twitter acquired the Posterous platform “mostly for the talent.” When Posterous announced last February that it would be closing its doors on April 30, most felt the announcement had been a long time coming.
Posterous launched in 2008, offering a minimalist microblogging alternative to Tumblr. The Posterous platform was specifically designed for mobile blogging via email; users could send attachments or links including photos, documents, MP3s, and videos to be posted to their blogs. The service quickly grew in popularity and launched mobile apps for iPhone and Android.
Posterous isn’t the only online service to announce it will be shutting down. In a spate of what’s been referred to as “spring cleaning,” Google has been doing away with many of its less popular web services. Google Friend Connect, Google Cloud Connect, and Google Voice App for Blackberry have been some of the less noteworthy casualties. Google recently announced that it will shut down its somewhat more popular RSS feed-reader Google Reader on July 1, 2013. Members of Google Reader’s rather large fan base are still reeling from the blow.
Nothing lasts forever, of course, but that’s doubly true on the Internet. Nowhere is impermanence so, well, permanent as it in cyberspace, where popular websites, services and social networks can sprout, blossom, and die within a few years’ time. Networks and services that once seemed immovable fixtures of the cyber-landscape are now online ghost towns. As time goes by, it’s almost inevitable that all of the web services and social networks we use today will crumble to digital dust.
But does that mean we shouldn’t put our faith in web services and social networks? To the contrary, these services are a key part of the way we interact, communicate and function in the world today. Show me someone without a Facebook account; I’ll show you the caveman from the GEICO commercials. Never mind, he probably has one too.
It’s not as though Posterous’s users – or the users of any other defunct online social space, for that matter – are losing their content. Posterous has provided its users with an easy tool to backup their microblogging streams and save them as zip archives. Popular services like Blogger and Facebook offer similar tools for any user who’s interested in keeping an archive file of their activity on the site. Posterous founders Garry Tan and Brett Gibson have opened up a new microblogging platform, Posthaven, where users can join and reserve their custom Posterous URLs – for a fee of $5 a month. While most platforms offer their services for free – at least on a basic level – Tan and Gibson have promised that Posthaven will never sell out and never shut down. Presumably, the monthly fee goes to help ensure that.
Even if Posthaven does shut down, there will always be another website jostling for its users. That’s the glory of the Internet – when one service dies, a dozen more spring up to take its place.