DVGuru, the valuable group blog about most things video and film, is no more as of Wednesday. I read it daily, which I can't say of many websites. I'm disappointed, as are a lot of other readers. What made it an especially useful site was the fact that it served as a kind of aggregator for more specialized and esoteric film/video content-related websites around the web. But beyond aggregation, the writers had a talent for quickly summing up an issue and then leading you to the original source. As a reader -- and as someone whose own writing was at times cited by DVGuru's editors -- I really appreciated that. Alas, I'll now have to find some of my news from other sources.
The announcement caught a few people off guard. What's the story?
I've heard and read that DVGuru, along with some other blogs, were given the axe by AOL, the company that owns Weblogs, Inc. There was nothing controversial about these sites that led to their shutdown -- in these cases it's always about money. Ads weren't selling or getting clicked through or, in all likelihood, it was just too much trouble for AOL to do the research to figure out who should be advertising.
I understand why AOL wanted to acquire Weblogs, Inc. It's a way to own content, and doing so would be a throwback to AOL's dial-up heyday, those halcyon days when it housed a good percentage of the polished content on the internet. The difference is that, in the mid-late 90s, AOL's content was general information, the "frontpage" kind of face that Yahoo and others provide these days. Blogs are different though; almost all of them focus on niche markets. Some companies get this; others mail out millions of CD-roms pleading with you to use dial-up.
(As a point of comparison, consider Google's approach to weblogs. Google didn't try to acquire various popular blogs. It acquired Blogger. The same thinking, no doubt, went into their acquisition of YouTube. Google doesn't want the content. It wants the delivery system for the content.)
Anyway, I'm not going to wring my hands about this -- there are, after all, another billion or so websites out there to read, and there is no such thing as death on the internet. Still, it only re-confirms my skepticism about the long-term viability of corporate-owned weblogs.
So long, DVGuru. It was good to know ya.