Name-shortening service bit.ly is Twitter’s default service for scrunching long Web addresses into short ones that leave more room for text in users’ tweets. Twitter switched from previous provider TinyURL.com in May. At the time, a New York Times report suggested that reliability was a problem with TinyURL. We also heard that bit.ly offered better analysis tools.
But bit.ly’s staff surely know that many Twitter users are obsessive enough over their 140-character limit on tweets that they’ll switch to another shortening service such as ow.ly to get one more character’s worth of writing space.
Ow.ly is more efficient for power users, because it only has four letters in its name: When you give Ow.ly the link you want shortening, it spits out a link with four or five digits at the end, such as http://Ow.ly/ocLa. Those links tend to shorter than bit.ly’s links.
Bit.ly’s solution? Three characters. j.mp, which uses a domain name in the Northern Mariana Islands but is meant to be read as “jump,” debuted with a blog post this morning from toddml, who I’m guessing is product lead Todd Levy.
I just got this short-but-helpful email from Andrew Cohen at bit.ly on the business side of their operation:
“Our investors include: O’Reilly Alpha Tech Ventures, Social Leverage, The Accelerator Group, SoftTech VC, Ron Conway, Josh Stylman, Pete Hershberg, David Shen Ventures, Jeff Clavier, Mitch Kapor, Howard Lindzon,Chris Sacca, and Founders Fund (Dave McClure). “
j.mp shaves two characters off the shortened URL, but uses the same algorithm for creating encoded addresses after the site’s domain name. A URL entered into j.mp for shortening will be shortened to the same character string as it would on bit.ly.
There’s j.mp’s next target: Knocking down the size of the encoded URL. Is it mathematically feasible? Please post a comment or email me at email@example.com if you understand the science of shortening.