Friday, 4 March 2011

Uniform Resource Locator news

There's lots of exciting news about the internet every day, but the news isn't usually about Uniform Resource Locators, aka urls.  Urls are the long string of characters -that start with "http" and go on and on -that we type into our browsers to find webpages.  But this week there were 2 interesting stories about urls in the news.
The first is from MIT Technology Review, titled "A Tangled Web of Shortened Links".  The story is about how the unrest in Libya has caused unforseen consequences online, especially on the popular social media platform Twitter, According to the story, when "the Libyan government temporarily cut off access to the Internet within the nation's borders...the goal was to control the flow of information to the public and disrupt coordination among the demonstrators. The shutdown failed to do either, but for a while it threatened to have an odd side effect: impairing the functioning of websites using Libya's ".ly" domains, including the popular service, which millions use to turn long Web links into short ones that can be sent out on Twitter." It turns out that  backup domain servers in Oregon and Amsterdam kept running through the blackout. But the incident drew attention to the fact that link-shortening services are now used to share huge numbers of links.
The second story is an excellent article on LLRX titled "Breaking Down Link Rot: the Chesapeake Project Legal Information ArchiveLegal Information Archive's Examination of URL Stability".  It reports on a study of link rot, a topic that is of great concern to librarians who are involved in preservation of online digital content. The Chesapeake Project Legal Information Archive is a collaborative law library project of the Georgetown Law Library and the state law libraries of Maryland and Virginia that is preserving web-published law and policy related materials.  The results of the study demonstrate that among the original URLs from which content was harvested for the Chesapeake Project, link rot has increased steadily over time.

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