AOL is joining the ranks of the other big Internet companies in providing tools for developers to interact with their services and platforms. I Am Alpha launches today to help developers create “modules” that can pull content – RSS news feeds, photos, etc. – into web pages.

So we’ve opened up this site as a sort of developers’ playground/technology preview, where you can play with our microformat and our toolkit and create yourself some modules! The modules you create and test here will join AOL’s modules in allowing users to create all sorts of wonderful pages. We’ll add the drag-and-drop goodness and lots of other stuff, and you provide the modules that expose your web service or product to our millions of users. We win because we get more stuff to offer users for their pages, and you win because your web service or product gets in front of millions of potential users.

It’s similar to what Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have been doing lately. And it’s yet another departure from AOL’s infamous “walled garden” days.

Alas, it seems this open-platform idea only goes so far.