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December 8, 2008

Exploring Social Media: Shortening Those Links

Exploring Social Media article series badgeAs I continue to explore social media and social media tools, I find myself relying more and more on URL short aliases like those produced by TinyURL. Long URL addresses are shrunk down to 8-14 characters. We’re growing more and more dependent upon information reduced to 140 characters in a world still ruled by the power of the link, and desperately seeking a way to squeeze down a long URL into as few characters as possible is a growing and competitive web app industry.

The need to reduce the URL on social media networks is similar to the need to compress down file sizes for transfer and backups in the earliest days of computers. WinZip, PKZIP, WinRAR, StuffIt, and others allowed us to shrink down a file to fit onto a small floppy disk, and continue to allow us backup, share, and transport large files in tiny boxes. It took a while, but soon Microsoft and Apple realized that file compression was essential and today, their operating systems include file compression.

Just as we needed to shrink our files, we now have to shrink our links. While not currently integrated into software and web apps, the day is coming when URL short aliases are coming to a web app near you. Right now, you have to settle for third-party integration. read more

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