19 November 2007

Die, TinyURL, Die!

A couple of years ago, I wrote about TinyURLs, noting:

they are a great idea: too many Internet addresses have become long snaking strings of apparently random text. But the solution - to replace this with a unique but shorter URL beginning http://tinyurl.com commits the sin of obscuring the address, an essential component of the open Web.

Well, I don't want to say "I told you so", but "I told you so":

The link shortening and redirection service TinyURL went down apparently for hours last night, rendering countless links broken across the web. Complaints have been particularly loud on Twitter, where long links are automatically turned to TinyURLs and complaining is easy to do, but the service is widely used in emails and web pages as well. The site claims to service 1.6 billion hits each month.

That post worries about having a single point of failure for the Web; that's certainly valid, but for me the malaise is deeper. Even if there were hundreds of TinyURL-like services, it wouldn't solve the problem that they subvert the open nature of the Web.

Far better for the Web to wean itself off TinyURL now and get back to proper addressing. Interestingly, blogging URLs often do that, with nicely descriptive URLs that let you form a rough idea of what you're going to view before you get there.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Better to run your own service :D
http://5thirtyone.com/archives/611

glyn moody said...

Thanks for the link. I still prefer natural URLs....

Larry said...

I just use Tiny9.com instead because you can specify tags to use in your URLs instead of random ones.

glyn moody said...

That's clearly an improvement on TinyURL but still lacks the transparency of URLs; personally, I like to see exactly what I'm getting before I go there, and tags don't allow me to do that.

Matt said...

This is why you should run your own, when possible. http://urlshort.sf.net

glyn moody said...

Indeed - thanks for the link.