Saturday, October 15, 2011

140 characters and URL Shorteners -- Really?

  1. AOL
  2. Prodigy
  3. Myspace
  4. Twitter
  5. Facebook
  6. URL shortening services like

What do all these things have in common? They control(ed) the platform, and companies and individuals gladly changed the way they did business or ran their lives . Some of them are gone, and I'm certain that in another ten years, the rest will be footnotes on the Internet.

URL shorteners are kind of unique in that list -- they exist to serve Twitter, mainly. They exist so that we can talk more in our 140 bytes. Unlike the real URL, they don't last as long as the page and they break. We need special browser extensions so that we know where we are clicking through to.

URL shorteners have become the masks for phishing and spam. How awful, just so that we can get our 140 characters.

I can't help but think that in ten years, we're all going to look back on this with a collective "WTF were we thinking?!?" Right now, the average connection speed for developed countries is right around 10 Mbps. Yet, we're limiting communication more than we were in the 90s. And we're stuffing the Internet full of temporary workarounds to this artificial limit. Youtube videos at TBs a day, though? No problem.

It's all rather silly. Let's get a communication platform that allows expression and permanent, discoverable links.

If Google+ gets a real API and federation, I'm willing to back that.

p.s. Diaspora is asking for donations. O_o


  1. Oct 15, 2011 06:27 AM

    I get your point, but I've seen some urls that are over 140 characters themselves. Until this problem is solved we need url shorteners. It would be good if services used their own shorteners. Some like NY Times have but don't use them in the url itself. Others now have them too. for the Washington Post. Maybe each service to make this more available so generic ones can be avoided. Right now I am using the ones provided by Choqok, my and Twitter client.


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