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to URL or not to URL, that is the question

by tgposzadmin on June 28th, 2009

Since Phil Windley did an interview with Sachin Agarwal and Garry Tan of Posterous that was recorded June 8th and posted shortly thereafter, I’ve been playing with Posterous, linking it to my Blogger and Twitter accounts and the simplicity has really dawned on me as to how significant something like Posterous is. Simply: Just email your post to yourself and you have a blog post.

None of this write here or go to this URL “stuff”. None of this WordPress complexity, either. Now granted, for some of us engineering geeks, we like the complexity. But for Mom and Dad, not going to happen. Maybe they can make something like Blogger happen, but then again, maybe all they can handle is email.

Take Twitter for example, pretty simple interface, 140 characters, micro-blogging – call it what you want, but the bottom line – 140 characters and that’s it. Some people are filling their accounts with nonsense, like what kind of coffee they are getting or what kind of weather there is where they are. I admit it, I have done some of the same.

The 140 character limit originally came from SMS, the Short Message Service, the text messaging “thing” that your kids are using on their cell phones. It’s this short because in the original designs, SMS was carried in the control channel. These days, it’s application will eventually head to IP, as all of the carriers figure out how to move the app into the IP world since it will be less expensive to deploy there, especially as the massive SMS apps (which the “reality” shows like Idol caused to happen) continue to have popularity with the masses.

Oh, but “some” have said Twitter can be extended, use SnipUrl and you can put a short link in your twitter feed that will redirect (using the basic HTTP redirect capabilities, that’s all SnipUrl is after all is one big mesh of a database of redirect links). And low and behold that’s how you are supposed to “post a picture” to or using twitter. This would work for any link you can get to on the world wide web. But this adds complexity to something already simple.

Posterous reminded me about the short URL phenom because if you link your Twitter account to your Posterous blog, then they will automatically create a twitter post with a short url linking back to your Posterous post. Pretty cool, because they are making it simple to use.

Simple is what it’s all about.

I had a similar discussion in a slightly different vein with a marketing person for a project I’m working on for her, and I was telling her to be careful on the business case because you can’t count on people typing into the URL bar, which she disagreed with. Well, missy, I say, I have kids, so I have a built in test group right in my house, so I tried my little theory out on these two and I found out that neither of them really know what the URL is or what that thing at the top of the browser window is for. I am pretty sure that both of them have typed something in there at some time in their short “internet” lives, but they really prefer not to do anything with it. They both get links in email or forum posts and they set them as favorites/bookmarks and then they navigate back there using that mechanism.

With the movement of mobile devices from phones to “smart” phones, I would (and to my marketing person) strongly suggest that with limited screen real estate and with the urgency of the mobile tasks, people will just naturally gravitate toward using links or bookmarks or widgets or whatever the new technology is at the time. Manually typing in a URL into an address bar is about to be a thing of the past, especially for a mobile device.

That’s where I think we are going, to the continued use of bookmarks and linking and a bit less of the ” W W W . YOURSITEHERE . com stuff.

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