Thursday, February 12, 2009

Twitter and Tiny URLs

At first I found Twitter pretty boring. Even the most succinct among us may have trouble saying something of interest with 140 characters. I get it that the idea was to simply let people know what you are doing from hour to hour. Frankly, it generally seems a case of TMI (too much information).

Then I ran across Twitter streams from news sources. An example: nytimes The Caucus: Caterpillar CEO Contradicts Obama Over Jobs http://tinyurl.com/c4asr3

I will sometimes check news sources frequently if I know there is some hot story going on. But twitter posts form news sources would be a very high tech version of some much older news feed technologies. The advantage is the ability to include live links (as above). However, I kept noticing the url's with tinyurl inserted. Then it occurred to me that many URL's are quite long. They would easily consume a lot of the 140 characters that Twitter allows. Tinyurl is a service that takes a typical long URL and creates a new URL that directs folks to the same web page.

As far as I can tell it is a "free" service funded by advertising and donations. There seem to have been a few glitches, but as the service catches on I imagine lots of smart people will be working out the bugs.

So Twitter plus Tinyurl, now that might turn into something.

Even as I write this, I imagine that lots of other smart folks are thinking of other innovative ways to use short frequent messages to offer a potpourri of info in a compact stream. So maybe I won't count the idea out just yet.
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