Autolink: Good or Bad or Boring?

We will all thank Google now for offering their Toolbar with the unique autolinking function. It’s always fun to watch the stick puncture the hornets’ nest. The entire blogosphere is buzzing around this one.

All the famous (tecky) bloggers are lining up for or against. One (Tim Bray at Ongoing) posted a very strong ‘against’ stating “It seems so obvious that this move is not only evil but stupid” only to update it later with:

For the moment, let’s just record that a lot of people who seem to be smart and honest think I’m wrong. More digging required.

(I truly respect that he can recant like this. The man knows how to listen.)

Check Yoz Grahame’s blog for reasons why the Web won’t end if Google has its way with us. This post in particular, where he responds to an email from Dave Winer (Scripting News), the great-grandfather of blogs, and resolutely against Autolink.

I don’t get any choice about the Autolink because Google didn’t make it available to Mac users.

My Take It sounds kind of cool to see links appear in the page content. I’m sorry, it just does. I mean outside of any philosophical and/or ethical considerations. I’ll probably try it out on the PC at work.

I do understand the arguments against Autolink. Especially the one that says it’s being distributed by a very authoritative source and one that we know and love. (Google is good! Google is the white knight! Say it ain’t so, Google!) Maybe the honeymoon’s over, folks.

But you truly have a choice in the matter.

  1. Don’t install the Google Toolbar with it’s unique Autolinking feature.
  2. Switch to the Mac OS where you don’t have any choice about installing the Google Toolbar with it’s unique Autolinking feature (will they trademark the word?).
  3. If you do install it, don’t click Autolink.

Google has arguably defined the Web experience as much as Tim Berners-Lee. This new in-browser programming with Javascript/DOM/Xstuff is almost as exciting as HyperCard was in the nineties. I don’t think Autolink drags Google over to the Dark Side. They remain, for me at least, a (somewhat tarnished) Jedi Knight.


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