22 September 2013
URL shorteners--when widely adopted--have access to usage trends and make their money through such analytics. Similarly, read-later apps have access to the same usage and may provide better analytics since not only can they track clicks, but also an intent to read. If a service has a primary use, metrics of that primary use become its secondary use. The obvious example is social networks (Facebook's recent work with AI will be interesting to follow).
Compare with how web sites themselves can extract meaningful information, beyond just popularity, from usage. In a discussion on the future of journalism, ReadWrite contributor Owen Thomas recounted how a spike in visits to an old article revealed that people were having issues with a software beta release. This seems to be a similar approach to the external/tangent analysis that is pulled from URL shorteners and read-later apps. The depth of information in a news site lends itself to a more dynamic application of such mining.
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