Update: TinyURL.com is back online.
Ask and you shall receive.
Yesterday, in Slashdot's huge-gigantic-massive-insignificant-concerns dept, Indus Khaitan posed this hypothetical question:
Thanks to twitter, SMS, and mobile web, a lot of people are using the url minimizers like tinyurl.com, urltea.com......this could be a big problem if billions of different links are unreachable at a given time.
Well, in a strange makes-you-want-to-hum-the-Twightlight-Zone-music-way, it's hypothetical no more. TinyURL is apparently down for the count right now. Whether you're trying to compress a URL into a tiny one (via TinyURL.com) or attempting to visit a TinyURL-based URL that was created and distributed to you by someone else (for example, one of the TinyURLs that appears in my Twitter feed on the right of this page), visits to TinyURL.com are returning "500 - Internal Server Error."
Almost in answer to Khaitan's question, the disappearance of TinyURL's services is demonstrating just how brittle the Web is. For example, if you try to paste a long link into a Twitter tweet, it automatically converts it into a TinyURL. Strangely, while TinyURL was down this morning, a tweet I authored that pointed to the Register's story about the iPhone getting a 3G radio by May 2008 was still able, through TinyURL.com's API, to generate a TinyURL (http://tinyurl.com/28fgbh). So, to the extent that Twitter is automatically "TinyURLizing" certain URLs, some part of TinyURL is up and running. But unfortunately, not enough of it and the result is that linkage all over the place (including in Twitter and Jaiku) is breaking.
In the case of Twitter and Jaiku, this at the very least proves one point I've been talking about which is that I'd pay money if it meant that I could hyperlink some or all of the text in my Twitter and Jaiku posts to the URL of my choosing (instead of having to eat up so many of the 140 characters that each allows with the lengthy URL text. Also, knowing that TinyURL was down this morning, I deliberately shortened the text of my post to make room for the long direct URL to the Register's story (the total post easily fit under Twitter's 140 character limit) and it still automatically TinyURLized the URL. Jaiku however left the URL intact. So, one morerequest to the Twitter folks is that they make this auto-TinyURL feature optional on a per post basis. Maybe we'd rather print the entire URL as long as we're under the 140 character limit.
I've got e-mails in to TinyURL founder Kevin "Gilby" Gilbertson to find out what's up. Almost a year ago, I published my podcast interview of Gilbertson under the headline TinyURL.com: The next YouTube? Perhaps not $1.6B’s worth, but…