Radio UserLand and the scary cloud


Radio UserLand

I got a shock this morning when somehow I stumbled across the Radio UserLand website while looking for documentation on RSS implementations:

Radio UserLand service closing
UserLand has decided to close the Radio UserLand and Salon Radio services as of December 31, 2009.
Please read the announcement for details of the closure.

Contained on said announcement page:

UserLand has decided to close the Radio UserLand and Salon Radio services as of December 31, 2009.

You can continue to use your Radio weblog hosted with UserLand until the end of the year.

If you plan on continuing to use Radio to publish your blog, we would recommend that you look for an alternative web host if your weblog is being published to a UserLand server. You can use the FTP option [1] in Radio to publish to your own server.

Ironically echoing the sentiment of the slogan of Dave Winer's blog ("It's even worse than it appears"), not only will their hosted software go offline, but if you've used their system to maintain comments they'll all be deleted too. Blood chilling stuff.

The closure of Radio will also mean that the UserLand-hosted comments, trackbacks and stats tracking will be unavailable after the shutdown date.

The end of an era. I remember back when I was in high school in Singapore listening to the podcasts made by the IT Conversations team from the PopTech 2004 conference where people were discussing what blogging software they used. Radio wasn't mention too many times, but it was the topic of a few discussions. I remember deciding not to use it simply because at the time I couldn't justify the price when budget webhosts with a free software platform existed.

Nostalgia aside, this is also another in a long line of stark reminders that hosting material outside your own sphere of influence and control puts you at the complete mercy of those who run such services. Despite all the cool cats long since moving over to services like Vox and Squarespace and the like, I continue to blog on my own webhosting account primary because of the control I have over my own material. It may not be any more or less reliable, but ultimately I have the final say in what happens.

I think the idea of cloud computing is an interesting (if overhyped) concept, but the primary issue that I've heard virtually nobody discuss is the issue of trust. I'm 23 so theoretically I should be eating all this stuff right up and moving off my own site and local software to instead live entirely on social networks and web based apps, but at this stage I don't trust anyone enough to do it.

I'll come right out and say it: the cloud scares me. And closures like Radio UserLand only serve to cause me further anxiety.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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