Media Perspective: Now 'I can Haz' will wade through usual URL gobbledegook

One of the challenges of writing these columns (apart from not starting sentences with "And" and wondering what headline Campaign is going to stick on it and remembering that you don't care about what challenges I face in writing it) is the fact that I can't link to anything I write about.

And, if I do want to include a URL, it'll probably occupy about half of my precious wordcount. It's a challenge newspapers face all the time and the most common response is to use a service called tinyURL, which exists to turn long web addresses into short ones. The only problem is that the tinyURL addresses - being mostly letters and numbers - are incredibly hard to remember.

So, since I want to point you at a few things on the web this week, I thought I'd use, instead. Icanhaz is a friendly little service that lets you shorten URLs using regular words. (You'll have to use Google to get an explanation of the whole "I can Haz" meme. We don't have time here.) I think it'll all become clear, so let's plough on.

The first thing you should have a look at is a piece by Kevin Kelly called "Better Than Free". You'll be able to find it via (see what I did there?). He addresses the whole debate about freeness as a business model ( and points at some of the new scarcities that arrive with every new abundance. There's some really useful thinking in there for media owners wondering how to compete with a world of "free and quite good".

Fretting about similar issues might lead you to a little post by Cory Doctorow, which is interesting when discussing Disney's responses to piracy, but contains a killer phrase that ought to be carved on to every content owner's forehead: "Content isn't king ... Conversation is king. Content is just something to talk about." (

Ah, I'm enjoying this, this is like writing for the web: you don't have to explain everything, you don't even have to have a point to make, you can just scatter references and let people find what interests them.

So, finally, for those of you worried about the fate of brands, here's a must-read piece by Umair Haque of the Harvard Business School website about "The Shrinking Advantage Of Brands" ( Because it's not really about that, it's really about the shrinking advantage of having a big advertising budget. And that's definitely worth worrying about for many of you out there.

So that's it. I hope it wasn't too geeky, but if you only want to trouble yourself with remembering one of these links - go to and I'll point you to everything referenced in this column.