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Too much reliance on free services?

iStock_000002109201XSmall.jpgWhat happens when we rely on an online service too much? Just a couple of minutes ago, via Twitter, I started hearing murmurs of one such service going down. I immediately felt a bit of a panic since I use it all the time. The service is Tinyurl. Tinyurl has a very simple model, they take long, complex URLs and make them short. Services like Twitter rely on Tinyurls to fit more content into the 140 character limit, but it's used more widely than that.

The service is free, and there is no uptime guarantee. I'd thought about this scenario a while back when an author asked if it would be wise to use Tinyurls in their book to make re-typing them easier for readers. I hadn't given it too much thought since then.

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Are there other online services that you rely on with no guarantees? What if Google Maps crashed or YouTube was attacked and lost service? Have you thought about contingency plans in case they go offline? It certainly makes you think.

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