A Temporary Internet

[updated 4/11/2018 ]

Link rot is a perpetual problem with the internet. We all have experienced plenty of occasions where a promising link turns out to be a ‘404’. There is something of a transient nature about the internet. Items can be moved. Servers crash. Domains are abandoned. Articles are lost. Nothing really is certain.

Another layer of certainty that probably needs to be reviewed is the uncertainty regarding link shortening services. This was highlighted recently by an announcement by Bitly.com that they are going to be retiring their link bundling service. This particular feature has apparently not been an overwhelming hit and the company has decided to retire the service rather than keep it up.

This particular feature may not interest you at all…but what about if Bitly goes out of business? What if link shortening becomes a thing of the past and not longer is relevant. Think of the countless tweets, posts, and services that rely on link shortening (and Bitly isn’t the only one). All those ‘links’ will suddenly become a massive pile of rot that barring some interference from the Internet Archive or some other concerned non-profit will be irreversible.

Perhaps we should give some thought as to how we are building the internet and avoid sacrificing convenience or length so that we are building an internet of lasting value.

Further Reading:

  • Bitly’s announcement¬† (update: ironically, now even the link to the announcement is dead…)
  • Venture Beat’s article

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