Thursday, May 31, 2007

Webjay Closing

Probably of interest to some ed-tech folks, although it's not really news anymore: Webjay is closing the doors. This bums me out -- it was one of those simple, cool earlier web apps that I really embraced because it was useful and fun. Over the years I put a lot of work into my Webjay playlists, collecting songs, podcasts and videos from all kinds of sources. The interface was quirky, but got the job done, and the page-scraping import function was invaluable.

Saving my old playlists will be easy enough (as m3u files, or archived at, but another bummer of losing the service is that all the connections and comments will disappear. In a few years of use, I must have hundreds of comments on my playlists and ones I've left on others. It's not that there's such rich value in them, but those comments formed my networks within the system, and it sucks to have them vaporized as if they never existed.

From my perspective, the beginning of the end happened when the MySpace masses discovered that they could run a flash-based player of their Webjay playlists on their profile pages. A diverse, supportive Webjay community was soon flooded by whining teenagers and derivative Top-40 and emo songs, making it much harder to find the really interesting, unique stuff. The crowds seem to kill the experience, and site performance suffered badly.

I suppose that the increased traffic caught the attention of Yahoo, who snapped it up. I was stoked for Webjay creator Lucas Gonze, a very smart (and nice) guy with a great vision. It sounded like Yahoo intended to keep it around, but I'd say that the quality of the site has been in decline ever since -- occasionally the speed has been ok, but at other times the service has been intermittent and the "popular" lists were often static or broken. The forums seemed to be largely ignored and I think many of the old-schoolers drifted away. Traffic seemed to be on the general decline as well. Farewell, old friend.