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May 13, 2005

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Google's Toolbar Keeps Invasive Autolink:

» Google Toolbar 3 outta beta from TechBlog
Google on Thursday took the latest version of its toolbar out of beta -- it's now what you get when you download the application at toolbar.google.com. It includes the controversial Autolink feature that turns address and book ISBN numbers into... [Read More]

» New Category: Google-free Zone from Lenz Blog Shadow Site
Two months ago, I had Google as the homepage of my web browser. It would have been fair to describe me as a fan of their service. Now I have decided to shut them out completely from my website, which I declare a "Google-free zone". I have also sta... [Read More]

» New Category: Google-free Zone from Lenz Blog
Two months ago, I had Google as the homepage of my web browser. It would have been fair to describe me as a fan of their service. Now I have decided to shut them out completely from my website, which I declare a "Google-free zone". I have also start... [Read More]

» Dan Gillmor: Google's Toolbar Keeps Invasive Auto from Thinking About Technology
Following up on the Google AutoLink debate, Dan Gillmor reacts to the latest version of the Google Toolbar: [Read More]

Comments

jerry

Google still offers me value. But so do the alternatives, and I'm increasingly seeking those out.

It's not bad for Google that you are seeking those out. It's good for Google that you are. Near as I can tell, Google is not yet Microsoft or GM or United Airlines .... and they seem to young enough and successful enough that they actively encourage competition and would encourage you to find or make the net that you want. Almost as if they still believed in a free market!

Anyway, like the dog in Larson's famous cartoon, what I mainly got from this one post was, "Google" "new" "toolbar". To which I have to reply, "Bark, Bark!"

Seth Finkelstein

The Power Of Google is becoming frightening. It's like mass media consolidatdion applied to web information.

Jim Horning

Dan,

This is one of those Google features that sounds nice, but that I hardly ever find myself using.

Despite your postings on the topic, I'm at a loss to understand why you think it's "invasive." It only links when I ask it to, and I can personally configure the sites it links to. It seems like I am entitled to as much choice in this matter as the creator of the page. (Cf. popup ad blocking.)

Jim H.

Mark

Dan,

You spoke of inevitable expansion of uses of site modification through Google Toolbar. Please specifically share your doomsday scenario. I can't see the atom you think Google is building here.

Also, just so I'm clear, would it have okay for a non-profit entity offered a toolbar identical to Google's? Would you still have a problem with it? Is it okay as long as Google doesn't cross a certain line? Where is that line?

Also, how do you feel about tools that scrape ads off web sites, enabling users to essentially freeload content?

I'm not seeing how this feature is going to distort the user experience any more than the current mishmash of toolbars, default search tools and add-ins available for browsers today.

Is it unfair or self-serving that Opera's built-in search bar only searches Amazon.com and not B&N.com? Is it unfair or self-serving that Yahoo's toolbar searches Yahoo Shopping, not Amazon?

And to Seth Finkelstein's comment, why aren't you as concerned, or even more concerned, about Yahoo! as a big scary media company than Google with its much more wide-spanning knowledge of users' music, television, search, email, gaming, dating and social networking, blogging, photos, shopping, bill paying, and IMing behavior? And a media mogul as CEO? Seems to me they've got a MUCH more pervasive media footprint than Google. If you're going to start a witch hunt, at least go after the whole gaggle, not just the Google.

Bob

Every time I read this hubbub, I hear webmasters making the same arguments that the MPAA made when Tivo users got accused of stealing television. That's not so surprising, maybe, because webmasters are rushing to defend their business model, it's just that webmasters have only had a business model for a few years, so there's no massive legal apparatus in place to protect them.

The problem I have with your argument is that we shouldn't be worried about Google doing this: we should be worried that self-appointed "digerati" like yourself are trying to kill off what could be a great new business before it even starts. If you look at tools like autolink, or more importantly, if you look at tools like greasemonkey, which allow effectively unlimited changes to both the presentation and content of a website, think of the possibilities! Every user could have a web suited to them, rather than suited to what a webmaster wanted. In a world rife with "remixing" tools like these, webmasters can still make money, provided they continue to provide content AND presentation which is relevant, unobtrusive, and actually beneficial to the user. To this end, you should be encouraging everyone to make more and more of these sorts of tools available: Google, Yahoo, Amazon, yes, even Microsoft, so that it's not ONE company giving users a tool to remix content, there is a thriving marketplace of tools like this. Yes, webmasters will squeal, but I suspect that already being the product of a revolution that's less than ten years old they'll get a clue and find a way to make their model work even better.

As for Google, I have to say that by using the term "invasive" it feel likes you're trying to scare people by conjuring up a bugbear that isn't real. "Invasive" is a good word for software that spies on your behavior without telling you. "Invasive" is also a good word for the monopoly operating system company forcing manufacturers to install their product or to be crushed out of existence. "Invasive" is not, however, a feature on a product that is an optional download for a single browser that is not even enabled by default and must be invoked for each and every use even then!

Again, if your worry is a monopoly (which Google is not) affecting the web browsing experience of users, the solution is not to try to stop companies from making more tools. The solution is to encourage EVERYONE: open source, for profits, users to get in on the action!

Neil

I'm also bothered by this move by Google, but I'm very excited about GreaseMonkey. What's the difference? GreaseMonkey is open source. It's managed by the community of users, not by a very cool, but also very secretive, large corporation. It may be possible to modify Google toolbar behavior, but it will never be possible to completely redefine the way a closed source app works the way that users have done with Firefox and Greasemonkey.

Neil

Re: Why not get worked up about Yahoo?
Yahoo's influence is marginal compared to Google. Our websites see 80-90% Google traffic and maybe 5% Yahoo traffic. The same concerns apply to some of the things Yahoo does, but Google is the gorilla in this space.

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