Tuesday, September 23, 2003

O brave new URL, that has such wonders in't

I'm sure it will not have escaped your attention, Gentle Reader, that many otherwise-useful website addresses are longer than Ginger Baker drum solos. Consider for a moment the permlink URL for a previous post in this very blog: http://ethanol.blogspot.com/2003_06_22_ethanol_archive.html#105686200155623873. Oy!

Enter tinyurl.com. Tinyurl is a website that enables you to give it a very long URL, and it gives back, well, a tiny URL that automatically page-forwards you to the original URL. For example, the long URL above can also be reached via http://tinyurl.com/offo. Got that? Okay. The four letters at the end of the new URL ("offo", in the above example) are generated in alphabetical order as new URLs are entered into the site. It's taken them months to get into the o's. When they're done with the z's, I suppose, they'll start again with five-letter strings.

So anyway. A while back it occurred to me: These tinyurl addresses don't expire. And now that they've gotten so far through the alphabet, there must be many interesting English words in their database. I think I shall randomly enter tinyurl addresses and see what pops up!

Why yes, I was rather bored at the time, why do you ask?

Anyway, an interesting thing emerged: Many tinyurl addresses seemed, by random happenstance, to fit the content of the pages they pointed to rather poetically.

See, for example, tinyurl.com/lazy. Or tinyurl.com/dork.

It's like a new fortune-telling method: tinyurlomancy. A third-millennium I Ching. Pick out a word, tug on the thread, see what web page it lands you on, and learn what there is to learn from it. It's a quite a tinyurl.com/head trip.

(There are a few in there that I don't think are random, though. I'm sure tinyurl.com/dick and tinyurl.com/cunt are easter eggs.)

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