bit.ly – bundles of fun (well, links)
To support a screencasting workshop I ran for Newcastle University library I wanted participants to explore and evaluate a range of screencasts. For courses we run regularly, we usually provide a resource page on our site for this kind of thing. However, as this as a custom course, I had a bit more freedom to consider the alternatives. I looked at using delicious with custom tags and a diigo list, but neither offered quite what I wanted – something quick, simple, that I already used, that didn’t need registration and looked stylish. Enter bit.ly bundles. They’ve been around a while, but are perhaps not that well known, so I thought I’d do a quick post about them.
Bit.ly isn’t just a URL shortener. Bundles offer a simple & rich way to collate and share a list of multiple shortened links. So, when you add a link to a site to a bundle, Bit.ly generates a preview image and extracts some descriptive text. Add a YouTube video and it shows in an embedded player. Add a link to a tweet and get a screenshot with clickable links. Add a link to Flickr and get a photo thumbnail, Foursquare and get a location map… you get the idea.
This is similar to how other services handle media, such as posterous and facebook, but it also has features built around link sharing. So you can add an overall description for your bundle, add commentary for each of the links in bundle, track clicks for each link, get summary stats for the bundle and allow for discussion through Disqus commenting. Viewers can toggle the view of links from preview to lists, share links and clone bundles to their own bit.ly account
If you’re interested in seeing the one I used for the workshop, you can find it at: http://bit.ly/netskills-screencasts
My intention for using this was as a quick and disposable way to share links. It worked for that, but I’m still not sure this is the best way to share multiple links when you want to engage people in discussions. There are also issues in using third party URL shorteners as intermediaries to resources and the potential for link rot. If you have a better service or approach that you use for this, let me know in the comments.