Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Autolink in Google Toolbar

Gary Price writes about the latest version of Google Toolbar. It includes a feature called Autolink:
    With "AutoLink" enabled, web pages will be "enhanced" with additional links if Google thinks additional information might be helpful. For example, say your browsing a web page with numerous addresses on it. AutoLink will turn each of those addresses into direct links to the Google Maps database.
In addition to addresses, it will also add links for ISBNs (books, mostly), package tracking numbers, and vehicle identification numbers. Gary says, "The commercial possibilities are massive."

Useful, but this one makes me a little squeamish. Google is now modifying the web pages displayed. The modifications are useful, sure, but what does it do to Mapquest to have all addresses everywhere pointing to Google Maps? What does it do to Barnes & Noble if all ISBNs point off to Amazon?

Taking this a step further, what if your web browser rewrote all your web pages? Would you be happy if IE pointed all addresses it recognized off to Encarta Maps?


Gerard McGarry said...

The element of choice is what's important here.

Microsoft do not have the trust of the public, for the software monopolies they hold and for the perceived lack of security in many of their products.

Google, on the other hand are not (currently) charging for these utilities. I prefer the deskbar myself - this doesn't tie me into IE and is always present. Fact is, I chose to install it.

Perhaps Google are moving into monopoly territory, but justly so. Other search engines are following, but Google leads. As long as they continue to innovate!

Greg Linden said...

A lot of good points from many people here. Thanks, everyone.

To clarify my original post, I'm not so concerned about what Google Toolbar currently does with Autolink. It is what may follow that bothers me.

Rewriting pages to add links is a dangerous trend. While Google's current implementation may be fine and dandy, it may also be the first step on a slippery slope.

Anonymous said...

Do you really want certain words and phrases to become hotlinks to sites not of your choosing?

no. that still doesn't make it any of my business how people view my web site. "freedom of choice" "boondoggle"? huh? what kind of talk is that? you either have the right to control what people do on their computers or you don't. i say you don't.

everybody, don't get "boondoggled" by the "control freak" talk.