AOL, the failing Time Warner Internet unit, is laying off another 700 employees via emails alerting them to an "important meeting." Even the pink-slipping process is predictable now. And former CEO Steve Case? He's sad.

And not just regular sad, but emoticon sad. ":(", he wrote on Twitter:

Fitting that Case, whose company popularized instant messaging, is using IM lingo on Twitter, a service his former company could have built in-house with a trivial amount of effrot. (Imagine if those IM status updates, instead of being displayed on a buddy list, were broadcast to the Web.) It's an example of the "lost decade" Case refers to: Years of languorously chasing deals instead of pursuing innovation.


Yet his plaintive tweets obscure the issue: Case oversaw AOL for more than half of this "lost decade." After AOL bought Time Warner in 2001, he became chairman, and stayed on for a contentious two years. He remained on its board for another two and a half years. Why is he sad when he should be mad — at himself?