Thursday, March 10, 2005

WSJ.com - Personal Technology: Google Toolbar Inserts Links in Others' Sites, And That's a Bad Idea

WSJ.com - Personal Technology: Google Toolbar Inserts Links in Others' Sites, And That's a Bad Idea: "What if you had worked hard to design a Web page, carefully placing links just where you wanted them and carefully selecting the Web destinations to which those links led? And then, what if a company with great power on the Web started adding its own links to your page, drawing visitors away from your page to other sites of its own choosing?
You might be more than a little upset. You might wonder what gives any third party the right to edit or alter your Web page without your knowledge or permission.
Yet that's exactly what Google, the powerful search-engine company, is doing. A new feature of the company's popular Google Toolbar for the Internet Explorer browser actually adds links right into the body of any Web page. The links lead to Google's own map site or to other sites Google selects.
Google notes that this feature, called 'AutoLink,' makes it easier for users to look up certain information. It also is strongly reminiscent of a Microsoft gambit of a few years back in which the software giant planned to program Internet Explorer to automatically add its own links to others' Web sites. Microsoft was forced to drop its 'Smart Tags' feature after Web site owners and others complained."

It'll be interesting to see how Google responds; Walt Mossberg was, imho, largely responsible for the Microsoft IE smart tag technology plan recalc in 2000; his 2001 smart tag article was widely influential.
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