URL Shorteners Unite

The Christian Science Monitor reports today that a number of URL shortening services have agreed to cooperate by sending data to a common storage mechanism created as an archive for this purpose.

There has been a good deal of discussion — and concern — recently about the fate of shortened hyperlinks should another shortening service close down, as tr.im did not long ago. The hope is that this archive, currently hosted and managed by Gnip, will preserve crucial linkage between long and short URLs even despite the failure of a service.

The CSM reports that “Bit.ly, Twitter’s default link shortener, is participating, along with Cligs, URLizer, urlShort and several others.”

This seems to be a step in the right direction, if short URLs are to continue to be used. I wonder, though, if it wouldn’t be preferable to have the critical data held in a distributed fashion, rather than in a single location.

The redoubtable Dave Winer had a piece on his Scripting News blog yesterday proposing a solution that, as best as I could understand it, involved mapping a subdomain for Slaw, for instance, to the URL shortener site and then sharing a space where the data is stored — such as on Amazon S3, the effect being that even if the shortening service goes down, the shortened URLs still work. Of course, if Amazon S3 goes down, the links are toast. Again, it might be best of all to find a way to store the data in a distributed fashion. But I’m in over my head here — shorter than a short URL.

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