The Longest Now

Old-school Movable Type
Sunday May 11th 2003, 12:31 am
Filed under: indescribable

There are all kinds of lessons to be learned by observing the oldest set of daily movable type users — the newspaper publishers, modern-day journalists, reacting to the closeness of this modern world with gray-haired media. I was given a copy of the Philadelphia Independent today, and it drips with the look, scent, feel of homegrown newspaper. What a fabulous beast! No technological barrier has keeps there from being such a paper in every major city. Some snippets from that later. For the moment, I just want to note that the ‘echo‘ that many people note in TV media, and online — the ease of reflecting what has already been written –goes back to that ancient but fleet-footed medium, word of mouth. Here’s a dramatic instance of it at the Gray Lady. Now just imagine how many people like Jayson Blair, but just a few degrees saner, make up our media, our government, our non-profit orgs…

Old-school Movable Type …

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I must say that I think the use of tinyurl for hyperlinks undercuts usability, because one can no longer “preview” a link by looking at the status bar; in many cases, one just wants to know _what_ the link is, rather than actually following it. I think, for example, of the old Suck stories in which every other word was a hyperlink and most of the hyperlinks were jokes. This problem could be ameliorated by use of the TITLE attribute.

Tinyurl and its peers are more useful for shortening links that need to wind up in print contexts where space is at a premium. Newspapers and page-limited legal briefs, for example, have excellent reason to use tinyurl.

Something like tinyurl could be very useful on the web itself if it were to function as a handle rather than a pointer — i.e., if the links ever moved or became broken, then the tinyurl redirect could be updated with a new target. This is how works for email.

Comment by James 05.11.03 @ 11:40 am

Thanks! Title tags added. I can’t do much about the default subject-URL link… not sure I can both find the relevant template section and update the submission form with an extra Title field.

In cases like this, where the total URL is 100 chars long and adds no information beyond “NYT article”, I think title tags are better anyway.

Comment by sj 05.11.03 @ 4:19 pm

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