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Enough with shortened URLs

Monday, August 10, 2009 by Dave Winer.

Enough! Permalink to this paragraph

With every shortened URL the foundation of the 140-character-sphere gets shakier. Now we know that when Twitter switched from tinyurl as the default shortener to bit.ly, they cut off the path to growth for the other entrepreneurs exploring this space. Permalink to this paragraph

Now, according to Mashable, bit.ly wants to absorb tr.im. They would make tr.im URLs work for the forseeable future. That is, until bit.ly runs out of cash and has to shut down because it doesn't have a way to support their service. Permalink to this paragraph

Uncle! Permalink to this paragraph

URL-shorteners are at best a temporary workaround for a limit Twitter shouldn't have. Permalink to this paragraph

It's time for Twitter to add a simple feature to their platform that allows users to attach a URL of arbitrary length to a message, without using up any of the 140 characters. That would be the rational way to get out in front of this mess -- to remove the reason it exists.  Permalink to this paragraph

Even if they can't implement it immediately, just announcing that they will would restructure the "market" and allow us a way forward that has a teeny bit of safety. We will still have the mess of the last three years to clean up. No way to avoid that. Permalink to this paragraph

If Twitter won't do that, then it's time that users insist that URL-shorteners at least provide the safety that Feedburner provided, by allowing users to point a subdomain at their server, and use that as the address for their shortened URLs. If tr.im had that feature, I would now be able to take over hosting of my own tr.im URLs and walk away from the mess. However because they didn't have that feature, I, and every other tr.im user, is stuck. Locked in, with no way out. Permalink to this paragraph

Twitter created this mess, now it's time for Twitter to become a leader in its own community and get involved in cleaning it up.  Permalink to this paragraph

Two choices: 1. Obviate shortened URLs, or 2. Require portability.  Permalink to this paragraph

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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.


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Last update: 8/10/2009; 6:19:46 PM Pacific. "It's even worse than it appears."

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