Novel ideas are rare and not often overly useful. Dragging an abstract concept into reality through grit and determination is extremely difficult. Combining the two is often an exercise in self-doubt akin to scaling Mount Everest while hunting for yeti. But who doesn’t like a yeti?
Imagine a world where the internet, that wonderful god of technology that we all bow our heads to, could help shape its own destiny. While I might be going off the rails into Lawn Mower Man territory, the concept of mutating hyperlinks is much, much simpler. You, the content producer, determine a subject you would like to share. You enter the subject in the form of a search term and the service goes out to the web, harvests relevant results and generates a single hyperlink to share with your audience in whichever manner you see fit.
Sounds pretty straight-forward so far. As your audience navigates to the link you shared, the service cycles through a different result for each new viewer, measuring their interaction with the resource. If the resource is highly relevant to your audience or the content in which you embedded it, then it is likely they will spend more time interacting with that particular result. Push comes to shove, all the results duke it out in an algorithmic battle of the fittest and voilà the service permanently redirects the link to the winning result. Ideally, this result strengthens your content and resonates with your core audience by turning passive consumers of content into active content producers.
Back in San Francisco, during my SEO days, the concept of mutating links seemed just interesting enough to propel me over the precipice of creation. Who knew how difficult the process could be? Patents, databases, APIs, whatever? As a 30 minute-a-night, after work side project, it didn’t seem too daunting to my ignorant brain. Fortunately, a healthy case of Howard Hughesian OCD can go a long way toward compelling someone to finish or at least launch something they smoked up oh so many years ago. And here we are, pushing away from the dock in a crazy contraption that might not even float. But the ride should be interesting and maybe we’ll spot a yeti along the way.