Over the last couple of years most of us have become ultra familiar with link shortening services like tinyurl and bit.ly to save extra characters when using Twitter or for sending out really long URLs in emails. I've heard lots of thoughts on how to make them better and have had more than one conversation about why they could lead to the end of the web -- I think that is probably greatly exaggerated. The argument goes something like, if everyone uses [insert service name here] to share their links and that service goes away, we have no real record of where we were linking to. I have seen instances where tinyurl has been down or eaten links so I've moved away from it.
I have been using bit.y a little more often and this morning took the time to explore what I think is really powerful -- the dashboard style view into what is going on with those links as soon as you send them out. Essentially bit.ly provides you with some nice anayltics into how many clicks you get from sending them out. What I don't know (but would love to experiment with) is if the person who clicks on bit.ly shortend link is also signed into the service, do I get to see that person's username? That would be incredible as part of an open edu focused approach ... I could essentially replace the same kind of click through tracking an LMS offers by simply passing URLs through an authenticated service.
What is interesting to me is that this is yet another very simple piece to a very open and flowing LMS concept -- I've written about the New York Times TimesPeople toolbar before as a simple way to push resources to a cohort ... now in cooperation with something like bit.ly URL tracking I am getting a solid way to see what is going on with those resources. Nothing to earth shattering here, but a little something interesting to think about over the weekend. Anyone have a bit.ly account and want to experiment a bit?