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Google does Smart tags!?
February 17, 2005 6:37 AM   Subscribe

Remember Microsoft's smart tags? It seems that google, doing no evil of course, is trying to implement a similar feature called autolink (Official blurb here). Will any of the 25 million Firefox users switch back to MSIE? The other new features look nice - SpellCheck and WordTranslator. Exchange Security believe they will get away with it.
posted by nostrada (28 comments total)

 
/me ducks
posted by nostrada at 6:38 AM on February 17, 2005


Why would Firefox users switch back to IE because of this change in the Google Toolbar? That doesn't sound like it makes any sense.
posted by chunking express at 6:51 AM on February 17, 2005


Oh noes!!1! Google has a button on its toolbar that lets us decide whether or not we want to use its AutoLink feature! Surely this will destroy the semantic integrity of teh intarweb!

But no, this will not get me to switch back to MSIE. <shiver>
posted by uncleozzy at 6:51 AM on February 17, 2005


chunking express - not to you, but remember that there are google devotees who will feel as if they are missing out on something important. A word translator does sound nice, no idea if there is a similar extension for firefox. I won't change back, that is for sure
posted by nostrada at 7:01 AM on February 17, 2005


Isn't all of this stuff already available in Firefox as an extension? The translate feature is, even if it isn't as slickly interfaced. The smart tag thing I could live without, even though it sounds neat. I already use an extension to let me know when a link pops open a new window, so I see no problems with a similar type of functionality.
posted by inthe80s at 7:03 AM on February 17, 2005


As long as Firefox has the ability to know if Abe Vigoda is alive, no thanks IE.

and oh yeah there's those 50 billion security exploits in IE too...those are kind of a buzz kill...
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:04 AM on February 17, 2005


I've got to think that Firefox support won't be far behind, which makes that part a non-starter. The real question is raised by the last link: how much do we want one entity to sculpt the way that we see the web? Some of the functionality seems cool, but I would hate to have all of my web-viewing to become a way for Google to make money. Mostly because I should make money from it if anyone does.
posted by OmieWise at 7:26 AM on February 17, 2005


It's in the Google Toolbar, which I don't use. It's optional, so who cares? Do you really think I'd go back to IE just because of this?
posted by pmurray63 at 7:27 AM on February 17, 2005


Sooo, Clusty Clips, only with more advertising?
posted by jefgodesky at 7:28 AM on February 17, 2005


Oh noes!!1!

To the next person who feels compelled to use this: please don't. Thank you.
posted by BoringPostcards at 7:29 AM on February 17, 2005


Nostrada, I don't understand what you mean by "get away with it" -- get away with what? Providing users with the option of using something that might simplify their lives? Providing users with the option of turning on or off a feature of a product that they choose to install?

Can someone, anyone, explain to me why Google giving users the ability to transform data into potentially-useful semantic links is bad, but Google letting you highlight search terms on a web page is OK, and Mozilla letting you add a user stylesheet that changes formatting for specific semantic data is OK, and the Adblock extension removing potential ads from webpages is OK? Because seriously, I'm not trying to be obtuse, I just don't understand. They're all ways that end users are modifying the layout of a web page in some manner, but for some reason, some of them have been communally blessed as acceptable, and others (Autofill and Smart Tags) have been run out of town.
posted by delfuego at 7:52 AM on February 17, 2005


Sorry Nostrada, I didn't realize the Google Toolbar was an IE only thing, so what you said makes more sense now. I use a Mac so I have never used any of these toolbars.
posted by chunking express at 7:53 AM on February 17, 2005


Oh noes!!1!one@
BoringPostcards hates teh internets!
posted by Plutor at 7:58 AM on February 17, 2005


delfuego - in my opinion it comes down to the old battle between the evil Microsoft empire, trying to take over the world (remember Passport?) and the good google doing no evil to anyone. Of course google is collecting vast amounts of data from all of us. They can link our websearches to our email account and make the normally rather anonymous web search function suddenly a very personal experience. Now they can also track what ISBN, UPS and map information you access, stuff you buy, index our hard drives and the list goes on. Will there be a day when people say enough is enough and steer clear of google? What is for some folks just a very convenient way is for others a privacy threat. I am sure they have the diskspace to store about everything you do, if they want to. And when they will have to maximize the return for their shareholders, the "do no evil" philosophy can be seen as an obstacle for some.
posted by nostrada at 8:10 AM on February 17, 2005


from the blog article above : certain unlinked web page information will turn to links automatically. The kind of text triggering this will be US addresses, Package Tracking Numbers, ISBNs, and Vehicle Identification Numbers.

I find nothing wrong with the above information automatically turning into links. I know what you're getting at in the write up - that Google has opened a door to automatically insert links to favored sites - but I honestly can't get upset over what is currently listed. Sorry :)

And since they aren't forcing me at gunpoint to install this I don't see it impacting my view of the web unless I make the conscious choice to turn it on.

Plus teh spellchecker ius a gud idea.
posted by concreteforest at 8:16 AM on February 17, 2005


Will any of the 25 million Firefox users switch back to MSIE?

No. Why trade in your Porsche for a Pinto?

As for Google being the knight in shining armor to vanguish the evil dragon of Redmond? I don't buy it. Google's been growing into a dragon of its own. I don't think they are anywhere near as noxious but, if rumors are to be believed, they have never deleted anything from their servers.

All your data are belong to Google. And that's why I won't be putting any extra google gadgets on my machine.

Especially when there's already a good translation extension for FireFox.
posted by fenriq at 8:21 AM on February 17, 2005


Will any of the 25 million Firefox users switch back to MSIE?

Yeah, probably. That's the thing with expressions like "any" or "all". Things are seldom 100%, so if you phrase questions with words like "any", the answer will generally be yes.

Similarly, only an idiot meteorologist would forecast a 100% chance of rain or a 0% chance of rain. Those are the only two figures for which a forecast can be "wrong". A wise meteorologist uses "99%" and "1%".

So, sure, one or more Firefox users will probably switch back.

That aside, nostrada's flubbing terminology a bit here: "Now they can also track what ISBN, UPS and map information you access, stuff you buy, index our hard drives and the list goes on."

You mention "they can index our hard drives" in the same breath as tracking ISBN, UPS, maps, sales, searches, mail, etc., which is being intellectually dishonest. Yes, they can index our harddrives. However, properly stated, their application indexes the hard drive, and relays no information back to Google, so putting the indexing feature together with their tracking abilities is FUDish.

A relatively close example would to be to say that Craftsman can monitor what tools you buy by credit card, where you buy them, and also keep a record of everyone you kill with the tool. Well, sure, the Craftsman company can monitor what tools you buy and where (if by credit card), and the Craftsman tool itself can keep a record (in the sense of DNA in blood and skin scrapings) of everyone murdered, but since the tool isn't sending back blood and skin to the Craftsman company, the phrasing above is FUDish and misleading.
posted by Bugbread at 8:47 AM on February 17, 2005


You're insane if you search for porn with IE - your browser will be hijacked before a single site loads.

Woulkd Anyon give up theire porn ine xchange for a betttr goohgle bar in IE, nomater what it fowes?
posted by Jos Bleau at 8:54 AM on February 17, 2005


Woulkd Anyon give up theire porn ine xchange for a betttr goohgle bar in IE, nomater what it fowes?

That's so bad it's good.
posted by Bugbread at 9:00 AM on February 17, 2005


No. Why trade in your Porsche for a Pinto?

This analogy does not work. A Pinto's gas tank can only explode once.
posted by eckeric at 9:24 AM on February 17, 2005


Hello. I'm new.

And probably missing the point in a big way. Why would a toolbar only currently offered for IE make any difference at all to Firefox users? If this really is the privacy-invading bugbear some are worried about, wouldn't it potentially drive users towards Firefox, rather than away?

(There is, of course, the Googlebar for Firefox, but that's a third party extension without much of the functionality of the official IE toolbar—and may never include this autolink stuff.)

delfuego: Can someone, anyone, explain to me why Google giving users the ability to transform data into potentially-useful semantic links is bad, but Google letting you highlight search terms on a web page is OK, and Mozilla letting you add a user stylesheet that changes formatting for specific semantic data is OK, and the Adblock extension removing potential ads from webpages is OK?

The latter are things the user has to directly implement. The impression a lot of people seem to have of these autolinks is that they're going to be mandatory, or permanent; as many before of mentioned, neither is the case. I'm mystified by the choice of the phrase "get away with it". If it bothers you, turn them off: it's hardly hanging a sheet over your telescreen.
posted by S.C. at 9:35 AM on February 17, 2005


The instant I clicked post, I realized that "Why would a toolbar only currently offered for IE make any difference at all to Firefox users?" might have been the dumbest thing I've typed on the internet in years. I was thinking of users running from FF, not to IE.

D'oh. Nice first impression, hey?
posted by S.C. at 9:36 AM on February 17, 2005


And probably missing the point in a big way. Why would a toolbar only currently offered for IE make any difference at all to Firefox users? If this really is the privacy-invading bugbear some are worried about, wouldn't it potentially drive users towards Firefox, rather than away?

Ok, I can recap that one.

The initial position is that this is a Good Thing, but available only for IE, so Firefox would lose users. The counterargument is that it isn't really a good thing, because of privacy considerations.

The conclusion (Firefox users would go to IE) results from the initial position, not the counterargument.
posted by Bugbread at 9:38 AM on February 17, 2005


On Postview: Ah, ok, never mind, you've got it.
posted by Bugbread at 9:39 AM on February 17, 2005


eckeric, I stand corrected and thanks for the laugh!
posted by fenriq at 9:49 AM on February 17, 2005




Metafilter: Google's viral marketing playground.

posted by Jim Jones at 11:05 AM on February 17, 2005


I'll go with the counterargument, and raise you a "who uses the Google bar anyway?" I much prefer A9 -- especially the new one where you can turn most of the crap off. It's been available for Firefox for ages.

And since I don't use IE anymore (except for Windows Update from home) the only bar I install in that is the Netcraft one that tells anyone borrowing my PC just how crap the sites are they visit.
posted by krisjohn at 4:51 PM on February 17, 2005


Glad to see the mefi crew still has some sense in its collective head. Here's my take on Google Toolbar and the relative crap coming out around it right now:

1) How the hell is the toolbar any different than a favelet or an extension? I can hit favelets that turn your page into topo views, that change the styles, that change the content. If anything, the question being raised by those against the toolbar is 'who owns the content'? Yes, when you're serving it up, the content is yours as a content owner/server; however, once it reaches an end user/browser/whatever, it's free for the taking/modifying/saving. But that's no different now than it was 10 years ago on the web. Was anyone complaining when Mosaic was released? "It changes my Lynx display into something more useful, OMG, we need to write scripts that prevent Mosaic from working".

2) Why can Google get away with it, when Microsoft couldn't (which appears to be the major tagline here, even over at Zeldman.com, the high trumpeteer of 'useful widgets')? Because Microsoft had 0 trust from its users, 0 trust from server operators, and their agenda was clear: world domination. Google can do it because they've built up trust, built up goodwill, and even if their agenda is identical to Microsoft's (which I don't believe it to be), they do a better job of representing themselves to the general public. I know that if I download a google utility, I'm getting something quality, written by smart people, who don't want to mess with me or my computer. Trust and goodwill go further than you think in this society.
posted by crabcakes at 8:17 PM on February 23, 2005


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