But What If People Want Google To Modify Websites?

from the calm-down... dept

There's been a tremendous controversy this week over Google's new "Autolink" feature in their tool bar, leading some to label Google as an adware company, and many others to yell about how Google has broken their promise to do no evil. To be honest, the whole thing seemed blown totally out of proportion. Charles Cooper puts it back into proportion by wondering what the big deal is (which he's now getting slammed for). Still, I have to agree with him. This isn't something that's being forced on users. It's their option to use it. The real complaint, though, isn't from users (though, some of the arguments about this feature seems to get that confused). It's coming from publishers who are upset that Google is somehow "modifying" their page. This doesn't seem like a legitimate complaint. People "modify" the pages they view all the time. It should be the end-user's choice how they want to view a website -- and if they choose to view with Autolink enabled because it makes their surfing experience better, good for them. Do the same publishers who complain about Autolink also complain if different browsers display their websites in different ways? It's the same thing we were discussing last month, where publishers were freaking out about tools like Bloglines and Skweezer making their content more accessible or usable. How come the same publishers aren't complaining that Google's same toolbar blocks popups? That's also "modifying" a website -- but, in that case, they find it so useful that it's acceptable. Publishers need to get used to the fact that information is out there, and people are going to modify it. If those modifications make it more useful, so much the better.
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  • identicon
    Nick, 25 Feb 2005 @ 3:53pm

    No Subject Given

    But it's not just "publishers" who are affected. As a web designer, I get a ton of my business from people contacting me via credits on a site I've designed. Most of my designs are of the pure CSS variety, which is hard enough getting to render properly across all browsers (*coughcough* IE *coughcough*) and platforms without having to worry about whether a Google Toolbar-placed link will end up jacking up my markup. It feels as though they are vandalizing one of my creations.
    You're right in that it's the end-users right to determine how they view their webpages, but I also expect the right to display my content as I would like. All I would like is for Google to give us designers a tool to disable this, ahem, "functionality" from sites where it is not appropriate. The simplest approach seems to be of the meta tag variety, as MS did with their MS-Smart-Tags-Prevent-Parsing tag, but until Google gives us the tools needed, we have to rely on hacks and kludges to wrestle control of our content back.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Hero, 25 Feb 2005 @ 5:05pm

      Re: No Subject Given

      You're right in that it's the end-users right to determine how they view their webpages, but I also expect the right to display my content as I would like. All I would like is for Google to give us designers a tool to disable this
      You obviously believe that your "right" to control the end-user's computer supercedes the end-user's own rights. Many end-users would disagree with you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anon, 26 Feb 2005 @ 5:18am

        Re: No Subject Given

        You obviously believe that your "right" to control the end-user's computer supercedes the end-user's own rights.

        How is the end-user controlling it? The problem surely is what content Google are going to link to, and so it will be Google controlling the end-user's computer, not the end user.

        Why is this going to be any different from the arguments against MS Smart Tags?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          joh6nn, 26 Feb 2005 @ 3:00pm

          Re: No Subject Given

          this is different because MS Smart Tags were built into the browser, and turned on by default. Google's autolink, on the other hand, is part of browser addon that the user has to decide to download. further, autolink is off by default, so the user has to decide to turn it on. so for Smart Tags, the user had to jump through hoops in order to turn the thing off, but for autolink, the user has to jump through hoops to turn it on. i believe that with autolink, the user also has more control over what is linked, and how, though i'll admit to having never used EITHER system, so that impression is based only off the reviews i've read.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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