In class, we have talked about the use of tiny URLs for purposes such as Twitter or to simply make an unbearably long URL manageable. The conversion takes place at http://www.tinyurl.com/.
In his blog, Make Marketing History, John Dodds makes note of "facilitating short-cuts as a route to better usability and improved customer experience."
His point is that the use of tiny URLs can be very handy, but it disrupts comprehension. The reader doesn't know what he is getting himself into because the tiny URL never gives a clue to its destination. One may argue that it is up to the writer to preface the link for the reader, but an online reader's habit is to scan not to deeply read. John Dodds believes that "having one's scanning eyes drawn to indecipherable urls does nothing positive."
I would have to agree. If an article was heavily peppered with cryptic URLs I would be inclined to leave the page.
http://www.tinyurl.com/ 's attempt at a remedy is that they do offer a "preview TinyURL" such as this one: http://preview.tinyurl.com/2b2tl4
However, the remedy once again circumvents the the TinyURL's function as a short-cut. With the preview, it takes two clicks to get to the linked Web page.
This all may seem a little too over analyzed, but the point is that usability and simplicity typically prevail. After all, it's the "little" things in life that matter.