Which Direction Is The Slippery Slope With Google's Autolink?

from the methinks-we're-heading-down-the-wrong-one... dept

Last week I defended Google’s autolink feature pointing out that users should have the right to do what they find useful with content on the sites they visit. It’s really no different than a pop-up blocker. However, smart folks like Steve Rubel and Robert Scoble are reacting in horror to this line of reasoning… pulling out phrases like “Pandora’s Box” and “slippery slope.” If anything, though, it looks like the slippery slope runs the other way, and they might be the ones opening up Pandora’s box. What they’re saying is that the producer of the content has absolutely control over it and the user has no place in this discussion. That’s a very old school, last millennium recording industry-style view of things, where it’s all about “control.” The internet is not about controlling your content. You put it out there to see what happens. If you block it off and make your content less useful to your users, they’ll go elsewhere. Scoble has complained in the past that he won’t read sites that don’t offer a full-text RSS feed because it’s user-unfriendly. Well, for people who find Google’s Autolink feature useful, can’t the same argument be made? The slippery slope they’re heading down is that users don’t have control over what they do with content on their own computers. They warn that others may try to implement such features — which is fine. If they’re useful, people will use them. If they’re not useful, or deceptive, then the companies that try to force them on people will be outed. If people want to use such tools on Techdirt, go right ahead. I hope they make your browsing experience that much more useful.

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