Sunday, August 16, 2009

One more standard page widget: short URL to permalink

Most pieces of content on the net from flickr photos to blog articles have a row of widgets somewhere near the item, inviting the reader to Digg it, Reddit it, Slashdot it, email it to their friend or make it their "it's complicated" on Facebook.

So, here was my suggestion: If you have a favoured URL shortener, or you have your own, provide one more link at the bottom called ShortURL.


Well, it turned out this thing is already baked in the 'Tweet This' link, coming soon to a blog near you. So we see another item added to the growing list of these widgets. I quite like the way a few people modify the 'standard' content interface on their blog and the change becomes viral.

Generalise: personalised widget lists

This widget list is growing in length, and will suffer scaling problems: I am a user of slashdot and Twitter, but not Reddit. And I don't email my friends with links. So I'd prefer to have a custom list of items. Perhaps, then, we could add a tag or special container to the blog so that a browser addon could replace it with my preferred set, using the links provided. If it could pick up this list from a website that stores my preferences, so much the better.

Semantic web

This brings us closer to the semantic web, where the stuff on the page is interpreted rather than simply displayed. Incidentally, this is where browsers can deviate from being PDF readers - they become more than merely a delivery mechanism.

The content interface

I can see a normal interface being slowly generated for content on the web, with each item having its own permalink and registered short URL, and some associated way of commenting on it. I expect it will also be possible soon to get a summary of its ranking or quality measure on various sites like Digg or Facebook. All this metadata, despite being available with the content via the browser, is actually maintained in many silos, and aggregated repeatedly. This is a sparse object, a distributed dataset.

At last, integration of platforms and services is possible at the point of consumption, rather than needing repeated changes to the website by the producer.

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