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Month: June 2010

MacWorld’s Shortened URLs

It’s no secret—I like URL shorteners. A lot. And as long as my mind’s still stuck on the subject of technologies that were ahead of their time… I was leafing through my MacWorld magazine at the kitchen table the other day, and saw (as I’ve seen a thousand times before) their unique way of providing the reader with more information on a topic or article. If you’re reading about a new Mac Gem, for example, and they’ve only got a small box to tell you about the product, they’ll often say: “to learn more about Mac Shortcake, visit (or similar)” Thinking back, I seem to recall that MacWorld’s been doing this for a very long time… for years before I owned a mac—and definitely before URL shorteners were en vogue. When I was younger, I used to pick up a MacWorld from time to time at the bookstore and read through it, wondering if it would ever be worth it for me to switch to a Mac. I wasn’t fully convinced until a few years ago, but I always did think that the “numbered” URL was a pretty brilliant idea. Does anyone know if it was Macworld, or someone else that started this? And what would you even call it? Numbered URL? Vanity...

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Remember AOL Keywords?

How many of you remember watching TV about a decade ago, and seeing commercials for large, well-known companies (and I mean really large ones—say, for example, Proctor & Gamble) and hearing “visit us on the world wide web at, or type in AOL Keyword: ‘laundry‘”? I was thinking about this the other day… AOL was way ahead of the curve on this. They were so far ahead of the curve that it didn’t catch on. I know some people just slightly younger than me might say “AOL? Who’s that?” But the fact is, AOL was really a cutting-edge company in the dot-com era. I suppose in one sense, you can’t even call them a dot-com company, cause they provided the framework for the dot-coms without really being one themselves. (Plus they’re still around!) In a way, they actually ushered in the internet age, and survived. Funny thought. But here’s what I’ve been thinking about… keywords were an idea so brilliant, we just accept them as a fact of life today. But at the time, AOL was the only one even thinking like that. I never knew what their policy was on how they assigned different keywords to different companies [does anyone know? was it auction-style? or just first-come-first-serve?], but I do know that they were attempting to make our online search efforts easier by coming up with simple,...

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