A few days ago, Mark Boulton bounced around the idea of Sparkicons, small inline icons at the end of links, that indicate what's on the end of a hyperlink.
Based on meta-data attached to a link, the Sparkicon could indicate the link is to a PDF, or a video, or a discussion thead. It could also include addition information such as how long a video is or how many comments there are in a discussion thread.
This is one way they could be implemented...
Adding meta-data to <a> element
As there aren't any suitable standard attributes to store Sparkicon meta data in, I used data- attributes:
data-sparkicon - content type e.g. video, music, pdf, comments
data-sparkicon-plus - optional extra detail to display e.g. length, size, number of comments
Displaying the Sparkicon
The Sparkicon is inserted using the CSS :after pseudo selector, so it should degrade gracefully in browsers that don't have CSS content support: