I was enjoying a shady Sunday morning patio chair and catching up on things Twitter and just being virtually social. (My Twitter is brucemr in case you care to follow.)
The latest version of Tweetdeck has enhancements that are nice, including Twitscoop support and more URL shortening services like Digg’s. In fact, here’s Tweetdeck’s blog post basically bemoaning the fact that there are actually too many to support. They note they already support these five: bit.ly, is.gd, tinyurl.com, tr.im, and twurl.nl. I guess you’d say this is their short list of shortening services.
Shortening services, outside the kitchen anyway, make a long URL short. (Duh!) Sometimes a long URL will not be clickable after posting or emailing, as word wrapping messes things up. Most critically, however, these things are needed for Twitter — where 140 characters makes space a premium. TinyURL.com is the first I remember. Oddly, the tinyurl of TinyURL.com is longer than TinyURL.com: http://tinyurl.com/bcvnvt.
Some already say these shortening services make it too easy to link to things bad. You can’t see the actual URL before being redirected and frankly do you trust these service providers to even do that safely? I guess we do. Such obfuscation has it uses for the providers too, as TinyURL.com suggests for affiliate URLs.
However, others think of other opportunities — see ZDnet’s David Berlind’s blog post which suggests that “TinyURL is the next YouTube” and worries that it’s value as a “demand intercepting weapon” and “stealth intention engine” will mean more not less use by advertizers. Berlind even thinks TinyURL.com’s developer Kevin Gilbertson is unaware of the opportunity to leverage his own data for advertising gain (well: he sells ads on his actual web page, but I can’t tell if these matter when using a Twitter client like Tweetdeck to front end the service). Berlind also blogged on another problem with intermediary services like this: Yesterday, Slashdot asked ‘What if TinyURL goes down?’ Today, it’s down (and it hurts).
So, what do we really know about these players? Really. Not much. At least, that’s the short answer.
The long answer is: we really don’t know much about them, but there sure are a lot of them. More every day. And, like all things we use, we need to know more. Wish I had the time to take a longer view, but I don’t.
The patio now suggests it’s time for socializing in the real world. Later.