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It's all just Rip, Mix, Burn innit?

The latest blog echo chamber whitterings seem to be on the subject of AutoLinks in Google's new toolbar.

Given that this feature would have to have near magical qualities to induce me to start running IE again, I'm probably not best placed to comment on its utility.

But after yesterday's tremendous experience with Greasemonkey, I think that it is worth pointing out that mangling the content in the browser is a stunningly useful idea. I may have only had it for a day and only run a handful of scripts, but the only way you're going to get Greasemonkey off me now is to prise if from my cold dead hands.

I've read a lot of bitching and moaning about the rights of content producers having their precious editorial mangled with, but honestly it doesn't wash. This is just Rip, Mix, Burn for the browser, and quite frankly it's been going on for ages. What do you think your popup blocker does? What does you Advertisement blocker do?

OK so this particular mangling happens to commercially benefit the company that's providing it. But so what? The users are still choosing to have the mangling. They aren't being hoodwinked, it's not some big phishing scam.

Nobody whines about Greasemonkey. Nobody whines about Firefox extensions, and clever bookmarklets, and web proxies that Wiki up the BBC.

Scoble's and Dave Winer's fatuous attempts to brand this evil and tar it with the Smart Tags brush are just a smokescreen to frame the debate.

The whole "if it's an evil idea, is it not evil because ..." rant is just ass backwards thinking. With Smart Tags, it was much more the case of "If it's useful idea, does it become evil if it's pimped to us aggressively off the back of a monopoly?" And of course you only have to look at IE itself to see that the answer is "yes". IE was a good idea and browser in its day. It was Microsoft's behaviour that made it evil.

Would I use AutoLinks? Probably not. Is the principal that enables them evil? Hell no.

Hmm, that all got a bit breathless. Fortunately finer minds than mine have weighed in.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Well, in search, Google is becoming a monopoly. And I think we're not too far out from control of info access being more important than mere platform monopoly.

And if the toolbar is compelling for reasons other than the Autolink, and if there is no pref to turn off Autolink, well, that would at least qualify as seriously annoying. ;)
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gareth said…
They're not exactly a monopoly in the IE toolbar add in market though.

And in fact, who even uses the Google toolbar anyway now that IE has a popup blocker?
Pip said…
Google is nowhere near a monopoly in search. The best (and most generous) estimates have them at 30-40% of the search market.

That is in no way, shape or form a monopoly, merely popularity. If the figure were 95% it would be a different story (I think I'm right in saying that MS has about 25% of the search engine market).

I'm sure this comment would be much better if it actually had any data to back it up.
Pip said…
Oh, and I can't actually remember the last time I saw a copy of IE without the Google toolbar displayed underneath it. All my relatives, all the people at work, etc. etc.