I was thinking about linking

The Library of Congress is archiving every tweet since Twitter launched in 2006. One challenge that is mentioned is what to do about shortened URLs.

Decades from now, such shortening services may be gone and the URL will leave no trace of what was originally linked in the tweet.

If we as a community are thinking long term about the usefulness of the web (and I think we are) I’m a little surprised not to have seen more people expressing concerns about URL shorteners (but maybe I’ve missed it).

I’ve started a URL Unshortening project on Drumbeat as a way to see if others are interested in doing something to fix this. If you are concerned about this, stop by and discuss.

7 thoughts on “I was thinking about linking

  1. David, did you miss the 301Works initiative launched last fall when a bunch of shorteners were shutting down? http://www.301works.org/301works/2009/10/8/301works-a-messifesto.html

    I haven’t really followed them so I don’t know how they work, or if they’re really doing anything now, but it sounds like a good starting point for some Mozilla contact. (OTOH, were I a librarian in charge of the Twitter archive, I’d certainly be resolving and storing the unshortened link as the tweets were being archived, rather than relying on some third-party promises to keep the 301s alive.)

  2. I can’t stand always-on shortening. A tweet or post like “Relief: http://bit.ly/9psZqy” is worse in every way than including the original URL. And shortening YouTube URLs which are already compact is idiotic. If it fits, don’t EVER shorten.

    1. Good to see that there are technical solutions to this problem, but it would seem simpler to avoid shortening where possible. For instance, it looks like Twitter just released an annotations feature that would allow the full URLs to piggyback on a message. Then maybe you could just have “[link]” as text in a tweet and then the full URL in the annotation?

      http://arstechnica.com/web/news/2010/04/twitter-launching-annotation-feature-streaming-api.ars

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