In Praise Of

Why I LOVE AOL
(And Not Just To Drive Ken CRAZY!!!)

Part One

Actually, Ken asked me to present a “dissenting” opinion, as someone whose opinion on such things he could tolerate.

Well, since the beginning of my internet tenure, many years ago, I've been an AOL subscriber, and have generally been quite pleased with all the different aspects of their service. And as I've grown more experienced, I really see no need to change servers. Do I like the fact that AOL is the most expensive ISP? No. But frankly, the ease and convenience of their services mitigates the cost. A good part of the full access monthly fee goes for dial-up; if you have your own, or connect through a different cable access company (like Adelphia), you can get AOL content and email service at a reduced price. I do a LOT of travelling in the US, and have only come across one state (MAINE), where I couldn't take my computer – not because AOL didn't have local access numbers, but because where we stayed didn't have local phone service, or even phones in the rooms.

Why did I start with AOL? Because back then, they might not have been the largest, but there were by far the easiest, and also one of the few available for the (pause for gasps and shudders of disbelief) MAC format. Yes, I was an evil MAC-er , too. Oh, the shame. Well, there were good reasons. Which don't really matter, now.

The point is, now, as then, AOL was and still is the easiest ISP to “configure,” both for WIN and the MAC. Sure, there is a great sense of accomplishment when you perfectly set up all the parameters of a browser and email client and dial-up from the spotty info that a cheap ISP may supply you with, but I'd much rather let AOL install and configure everything for me, and, if I'm a newbie, literally walk me through the set-up procedure. Sure, you can mess it up if you really try, and overthink the options, but if you go slowly and answer the questions simply, it does all the hard stuff for you, whether you're adding an exisiting account to a new computer or starting a whole new shebang.

One Response to In Praise Of

  • admin says:

    We can agree on some of these points. Usability is omething that should have been built into other browsers earlier. But there's a dark side to it all.

    In this case, simplistic “usability” means less freedom —

    If you create an interface that lays out the web (as if that were even possible) in a bite-sized chunk, it will mean guiding people to limied news, shopping, whatever.

    The “sink or swim” attitude of other ISPs weeds out people who are too stupid to be online, and although it will never have the same marketing finesse as AOL, pushes people to find their OWN way around the net.

    Some will call this chaos.

    Some of us call it Freedom.

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