Technicolor Dream Quilt


On Friday, I had coffee with a guy who’s interested in a sales position at bitly. We talked for awhile mostly about what bitly was and what it meant to the web. Just before he left, David pulled this picture up on an iPad and said he hoped bitly became something similar. It stuck with me and I started thinking how often people ask what bitly will end up being…

…a profitable SaaS? An outmoded geeky utility? the next Pinterest? omniture 2.0? I’d prefer to think that each of those short links and corresponding clicks have created a company that’s more adjective then noun. Bitly is: 

Representative - of people’s perceived and actual selves online. Hegel would be proud that in 2012 a URL shorten has grown to toe the line of his identity in difference. The shorten telling of how people present themselves to the world; the click detailing what people are actually into and, in a way, who they really are. Matt LeMay - Our in-house Hegel - would call this the Kitteh vs. Chikin syndrome.

Descriptive - of interest online. Products, Articles, Presidents, News Outlets, Pop Singers, and Kardashians. What’s popular and what isn’t right now? From academia to advertising, this question begs an answer for web consumption. With bitly, an in-depth, filtered view of topic popularity or a general report on top worldwide publishers is actually possible. 

So why the painting? two years in the making, Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte - 1884 is Seurat’s most famous work as it established pointillism as an art form. The 6 x 10-foot canvas is made up of tiny individual points of highly curated color - unique as snowflakes - but, when seen as a whole, expressing a unified hue to any viewer. Iconic, gorgeous, and utterly dependent on each point for the consummate effect. 

I’ve come to learn that a URL shortener by itself is simple to build and that anyone click isn’t meaningful to anyone beyond the clicker. But at scale with real-time metrics and almost four years in the making, Weissman, Levy, Cohen, Mason, Borthwick, Czebotar, Kortina, Tomlinson and Ridgeway’s famous link shortener has taken every individual click - each a unique point of data - and quilted an image potentially as vivid as Sunday Afternoon….

Title: The WebArtist: Bitly, Date: 2008-present, Description: an expansive work that defines who we are through its own creation and growth. 


Tim DevaneComment