AOL hired John McKinley, former CTO of Merrill Lynch, as its new Chief Technology Strategist and President of AOL Technologies. At Merrill, McKinley was a visible and respected leader in the move to Web services. Hiring him suggests that AOL, which has always defined itself as a company that doesn’t care about technology, may be changing its tune. The Internet companies that have thrived while AOL faltered — Microsoft, Amazon.com, eBay, Google — have two things in commons. They are deeply technology-driven, but they see technology not as an end in itself but as a platform. Maybe I’m reading in too much, but this could be the direction AOL is going.