Manton is working on something I’m eager to see. Some sort of project involving microblogs, RSS feeds, and timelines. He’s taken a shot at defining a microblog and I see it as an opportunity to address what I consider one of the “bugs” in microblogs as we’ve seen them thus far, links.
It has consistently annoyed me that Twitter and App.net’s links count against my character count. It seems to run counter to what I love about microblogging, carefully chosen words communicating a succinct idea. I often have a pretty good tweet composed and then I paste in the link to a site or image and have to rework the whole thing. Here’s the thing about links, there’s nothing careful or succinct about them. Lengthwise, they are effectively random. Link shortening services, such as bit.ly, have arisen as a hacky workaround to this issue.
In my own Snippets posts I write my links in HTML anchor tags, in order to not clutter a good reading experience. Then to syndicate them to other services I end up editing them down, using link shorteners and feeling disappointed by the end result. So my vote for defining a microblog post is that links not count against the character count. Whether that means they should be written in HTML or simply listed somewhere else in the XML I’m not sure, but we should be succinct with our words, without lettings somebody else’s URL scheme cut us short.