Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Shorthand for the 21st century: important text savers




Smartphone texting and the 140-character limit on Twitter have made people conscious of the amount of space their words take up. Sometimes you just want to save space and time when you type a link for a book on a website, blog or in an email. 

If you look for a link on a bookseller's website, you may encounter an extremely long and cumbersome string of characters that requires lots of time and space and invites errors.


Here's the ugly result of a Google search for my newest book:

http://www.amazon.com/Do-As-Say-Not-Did/dp/0981661769/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1410263455&sr=8-1&keywords=do+as+i+say+not+as+i+did

Here's the even worse result of a search within the Amazon website:


http://www.amazon.com/Do-As-Say-Not-Did/dp/0981661769/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1410263528&sr=1-1&keywords=do+as+i+say+not+as+i+did

If I go directly to the book page, I get this monstrosity:

http://www.amazon.com/Do-As-Say-Not-Did/dp/0981661769/ref=la_B002BOH4FM_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1410263608&sr=1-1


Sometimes I get this shorter version:

http://www.amazon.com/Do-As-Say-Not-Did/dp/0981661769


HOWEVER, it's possible to prune the extraneous material to get a shorter string:  
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0981661769.  I can drop the http://www and it will still work: amazon.com/dp/0981661769.

If I search for the book on the Barnes & Noble website, I get this looong string:


http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/do-as-i-say-not-as-i-did-michael-n-marcus/1119852334?ean=9780981661766

I can shorten it to: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/9780981661766. As above, I can remove the http://www and use 
barnesandnoble.com/s/9780981661766.

I can save even more characters by using "bn.com" instead of "barnesandnoble.com": bn.com/s/9780981661766.



HOWEVER, there's a great free online service that provides even shorter, fully-functioning links: Bitly.com 


You just type in your long, clunky link and PRESTO, you get a short link that you can easily copy and paste wherever you want.



In the example shown above, Bitly reduced a link from a ridiculous 113 characters to a convenient 22.

You can even drop off the http:// and reduce your character count by seven more: amzn.to/1tHcFIR.

Some shortened links have a Bitly "domain," as with 
bitly.com/1p8oAfF.

Bitly says it shortens more than one billion links per month. The company also provides statistics about link-clicking, and custom short links such as amzn.to for Amazon and nyti.ms for the New York Times.

BItly's dot-ly "domain" is controlled by the government of Libya. This may not inspire confidence, but millions of Bitly users -- including me -- are willing to take a chance.

1 comment:

  1. Great info, as usual. Thanks very much.

    ReplyDelete