I really enjoyed Bit.ly versus Goo.gl, by Jonah Keegan. It was written in December 2009, about the impact of the new Google short URL service,
goo.gl on link relationships throughout the internet.
Bit.ly and Goo.gl: A URL Shorter Story?
Jonah indicated that
bit.ly, owned by BetaWorks, was the most commonly used URL short link service. He described how many users were baffled about how to use Goo.gl, myself included! Also,
goo.gl was restricted to Google product pages only, and not for broader consumer use. See image* for details, and please click to view with better resolution.
The demand for shortened URL’s has burgeoned. Bit.ly self-describes as The Bitlyverse! The Bitlyverse includes a private beta version, Bitly Pro, an ultra-short URL service, j.mp, for those times when conserving an extra byte is critical, and bitly.tv. There’s a showcase of moving images on bitly.tv. However, I like the Bitly Labs description:
bitly.tv: Lowering worker productivity since 2009! The first bit.ly skunk works project to see the light of day, bitly.tv feeds you the hippest and trendiest videos from around the web in real-time. So pull up a chair… and let your work day slip away.
Shortened URLs are useful URLs
Moving forward into the here and now, Twitter has its own URL shortener (
t.co/xxxxx), as do most other sites of newsworthy content, e.g. The New York Times (
nyt.ms/xxxxx), Reuters (reut.rs/xxxxx), even MySpace (mysp.ce/xxxxx). Why? Because the shortened URL’s are valued for tracking purposes, to decide who’s the most popular Twitter kid on the block. No, not really. Rather, they are used by Twitter “influence metrics” services, based on frequency and propagation, maybe even persistence, of re-tweets.
URL shortener’s can be used in other contexts besides Twitter, for the same reason: Each is unique, and gives the ability to track the URL life-cycle. There is interest in personally branded URL shortener’s. Duplication is not a concern, but the Twitter platform is constantly changing. Anyone who relies on URL tracking would prefer having a repository of links that were not vulnerable to loss should the URL shortening provider cease operation.
One warning about goo.gl: It must be run from the Google toolbar. The Official Google blog post specified requirements for using goo.gl when it first debuted last year. This means that you have no choice other than to install Google’s toolbar in your browser if you want to use goo.gl.
Minor surprise ending
A tidbit of Google trivia allows me to end on a whimsical note, which is better than my usual dark tidings of Ragnarök, the new New Delhi super virus, our never-ending War in Iraq, online surveillance, illegal aliens, illegal extra-terrestrial aliens and so forth. Apparently Google gives code names to some or all of its products. The Google internal name for the December 2009 version of the toolbar, enabled for goo.gl, was Dangermouse. It led me to follow the trail here, where I shall end my little tale!
UPDATE November 2012
Google removed the toolbar restriction for use of
goo.gl/xxxxx. In fact, Google discontinued the toolbar entirely. Goo.gl remains useful, and was joined by friends. For Google services, such as Google Maps, Product Forums and Books, there is
g.co/xxxxx. For Google-owned YouTube, look for
* Disclaimer: This is considered “fair use” per Google copyright policy and Terms of Service. I checked.