Dropbox LogoDropbox is one of those services that many of us rely on heavily. It’s been a key part of my workflow for many years, and one of the features that I like about Dropbox was its public folder setup. You could throw a file in there, easily get a link, and share it. It’s a convenient way to share files, especially for one-off situations.

As Dropbox grew and matured, users gained the ability to get a sharing link for any file, which made the public folder slightly less necessary. What this new feature lacked, that the public folder has, is the ability to serve that content natively in the browser. HTML would render, images could be included in a page, and so on. It was, actually, a web host.

And I’m sure people abused the heck out of it. I’ve seen whole websites shared there. I’m sure files that probably shouldn’t be shared are there. Like I said, free web hosting. To their credit, Dropbox would turn some shares off if the bandwidth got too high, but it still was probably spending a large amount of money on bandwidth for shared, public items.

Last week, Dropbox started letting users know it was doing away, once and for all, with the public folder. Accounts created after 2012 never really had the public folder, so this is mostly affecting long-time, legacy users.

Free users will see their access to the public folder go away in March of 2017,  for pro users, it will end in September. Here’s a small snip the website note posted last week:

Dropbox Basic (free) users: Beginning March 15, 2017, the Public folder will be converted into a standard Dropbox folder that’s private to your account. This transition will occur automatically. After the transition, when someone visits an existing Public folder link, they’ll see an error page. If you want to share any Public folder content again, you’ll need to use any of our other sharing methods. Learn more.

With the new sharing links, users don’t need a public folder, any file can be shared via link. And as a bonus, Dropbox will probably save some decent money on bandwidth for all the free sharing they were doing.

To celebrate the end of this era, here’s a direct link to an image shared in my Dropbox public folder. It’s a photo of the city of Cardiff, Wales, taken from my favorite bench on the Cardiff barrage. Enjoy, and thanks, Dropbox, for a great service!

In addition to presenting at the IWMW workshop 2 weeks ago at the University of Essex, I also had the chance to participate in two sessions put on by Netskills held in London and Cardiff.

I spoke about how schools in the us, and my school in particular, are using social media to connect with multiple audiences. It was fun to share what we’re doing here in the US and talk to web folks about what they are doing with social media in the UK.

Here’s some great feedback from Daniel Hanly of the University of Glamorgan about not only the entire two-day session but also my little bit. A snippet:

Promotion was the tip of the [iceberg] pyramid as far as the conference went – we had a guest presentation from Mike Richwalsky who is the assistant director of public affairs at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania. He gave a very inspiring and discussion provoking view into using Twitter, Facebook and other social networking tools to connect with your audience and to connect with a potential audience. It also presents a way for your website to grow, facebook groups tend to be viral (if relevant) and twitter gives you access to everyone on the web to push your message to. There was numerous issues here especially from education institutions who believed that their students would see them as “trying to get down with the kids” and then it’ll actually impair relationships with the audience instead of help them, however, they were quickly dispelled by Mr Richwalsky who said that they only push information out as an institution and they do not try and connect with the students, instead just feed them relevant information. Promotion was a very rich topic, there’s so many ways you can get your name out there nowadays, its pretty much impossible to stay behind a closed door.

Thank you to Steve Boneham, Christine Cahoon and George Munroe for inviting me to participate as well as sharing a nice meal in Cardiff with me.

* Photo by Steve Boneham. The photo is from the London session. I was seriously jet-lagged.