Commentary

Tools To Shorten URLs: Helping To Evade The End Of The Internet?

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I've often wondered how long it will take to run out of room on the Internet. While writing for a more tech-related magazine in the early 2000s, I followed the movement from IPv4 to IPv6. It made me feel a little like Christopher Columbus standing at the end of the world looking down off a cliff into the brave new world.

IPv6 is the next-generation Internet protocol intended to open more IP addresses than the current IPv6 technology. The technology aims to support and interconnect all the computers, televisions, advertisements, etc., that can identify, measure and record clicks and conversions. It aims to make search easier, too.

The introduction this week of Google URL Shorter, the tool that lets people shorten URLs, made me think once again about IPv6. I'm pretty sure that most people who share links know these tools squeeze a long URL into fewer characters to make it easier to share with others, but I'll explain anyway.

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Are we running out of shorter URLs? The more pages and sites plastered on the Web, the longer the URLs get. And there are plenty of pages posted daily. In a Webcast Tuesday, Google said that last month 15 million Web sites were created -- and estimated that within the space of one day, about 900,000 blog posts are posted.

Google's tool is an update to the Google Toolbar and FeedBurner. Software engineers at the company -- Muthu Muthusrinivasan, Ben D'Angelo and Devin Mullins -- tell us in a blog posted Monday that people share a lot of links, particularly on microblogging services like Twitter. "With character limits in tweets, status updates and other modes of short form publishing, a shorter URL leaves more room to say what's on your mind -- and that's why people use them," the Google engineers wrote.

Google wasn't the only one on Monday to announce a new URL shortening tool. One of the more widely used is by Bit.ly, which also announced the release of a premium shortener called Bit.ly Pro. The tool allows sites to create custom URLs for their own domains.

As part of the initial beta program, the company will make custom URLs available to a limited number of large and medium-sized Web publishers and bloggers, including AOL, Bing, Clicker, The Huffington Post, MSN, The New York Times, The Onion, and The Wall Street Journal Digital Network.

Bit.ly also introduced a real-time dashboard that will provide publishers with more information about their bit.ly traffic. The tool provides a "real-time view" of how a given publisher's content is being distributed across networks like Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace and services like email, SMS, and Instant Messenger.

4 comments about "Tools To Shorten URLs: Helping To Evade The End Of The Internet? ".
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  1. Mike Weber from CMR Studios, December 15, 2009 at 4:29 p.m.

    I think it's hilarious that the Google software engineer working to make domain names shorter is Muthu Muthusrinivasan. I bet they call him MuMu.

  2. David Pavlicko from AVISPL, December 15, 2009 at 4:39 p.m.

    excellent comment Mike. that's EXACTLY what I thought. awesome.

    as a side note, doesn't bit.ly already tell you where people click your link from? I wish it would tell you WHO was clicking the link - now THAT would be useful, and something I'd pay for (even though it will never happen).

  3. R.J. Lewis from e-Healthcare Solutions, LLC, December 15, 2009 at 6:50 p.m.

    What do you think of a custom company (logo enabled) URL shortener like this one:
    http://e-healthcaresolutions.com/links/index.php
    Granted, this doesn't make a real "short" URL, but you can see how it could (and you can see how the use of a company logo/custom header could be incorporated). If one is to spend the time blogging, tweeting and retweeting, why not get some branding out there... since it's not necessarily appropriate to "tweet" brands, this is a softer way of getting some branding in exchange for providing valuable information (presumably the link you are linking too is valuable). Thoughts?

  4. Rick Iswalt from Global Employment Solutions, Inc., December 16, 2009 at 3:47 p.m.

    Hasn't Tinyurl been doing this for sometime, aside from others? I have been using it for at least a year, now. Why the big focus now?

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