In the Web 2.0 era of the Internet, there's a lot more social interaction and exchanging of information. Sites like Facebook and Twitter allow users to interact with each other and share links to the rest of the Web.
However, there's a common problem that's been solved by several services. Take the following Url as an example:
It's ideal for SEO purposes - search engines will index it well, as it's keyword rich. It's also very readable to us Humans, but can prove to be hard to remember or exchange with others, particularly with Twitter's 140 character limit.
Then there's Urls such as the following:
Not only is it awkward for search engines to crawl, as it contains no useful information - it's merely Amazon specific codes. But, it's also completely useless for us to read and share to others. Sure, you can highlight the string, then copy/paste it - or click it if it's a clickable anchor link. But what if you're on the phone to a friend and suggesting they look at this great product you've found? Do you start reading out forward-slash g-p forward-slash product forward-slash 0, 4, 7...?
Obviously, the first Url is the preferred SEO/Human friendly option, but it's not ideal. So sites like bit.ly and tinyurl.com have cropped up over the past few years to overcome this and provide users with short, easy to remember, easy to use Urls.
Take the first example, in it's bit.ly format: http://bit.ly/9EJLFT
Now take the second: http://bit.ly/a411nG
Regardless of where the Url actually takes you, the bit.ly version is perfect for exchanging over the 'net. That phone call is not only shorter (saving you money) but also isn't prone to misspellings, resulting in a 404. Twitter will thank you for providing it with a short Url and will let you type a further 120 characters. Your memory might actually be able to remember that short 6 character key if needed and you'd easily be able to write it down quickly if required.
Behold: slck.it, a url shortener. Simply paste your long, ugly, unfriendly Url into the box and click the button slck.it - my previous examples then become: http://slck.it/m6ITl8 - What are your favorite open source tools? and http://slck.it/l52Skw - Professional IIS 7 (Programmer to Programmer): Amazon.co.uk: Kenneth Schaefer, Jeff Cochran, Scott Forsyth, Rob Baugh, Mike Everest, Dennis Glendenning: Books
In much the same way bit.ly et al work, slck.it takes your long Url and shortens it into a memorable and succint version. Each time someone clicks on your shorter version, they are 301 redirected to the original. Simple.
I'll be using slck.it myself from now on, to shorten my Urls as I contribute on the Internet - feel free to do the same!
Oh, and if you were wondering, the domain slck.it is a hack of slick in slickhouse using an Italian extension. Slck.it itself is also going to be released in the near future for others to roll their own - and it's my first ASP.NET 4.0 application, built in Visual Studio 2010.
I've bitten the bullet and have registered for a Twitter account. After a few hours messing around, I've decided to integrate it into the sidebar - so if you move your eyes slightly to the right, you should spot it!
Let me know if you're on Twitter and I'll start following you (like the sheep that I am). If you're not already on the bandwagon, then jump aboard and let me know what you think.