Publishers vs. Users

Robert Scoble does everyone a favor by boiling down the outrage over Google’s Autolink feature to an easily understandable idea,

Anything that changes my content is evil.

Wow. I happen to take the opposite view — as long as changes aren’t forced on users by spyware or tools that are shipped with the browser and turned on by default, I think its great if you want to change my content in a way that better suits your needs. And I do the same thing.

Want to turn images off? Go for it. Want to run a Firefox extension that inserts graphics next to any link that is for a PDF or MP3 file? Be my guest — I use such an extension myself.

In fact, thanks to the beauty of Firefox, I have an extension that modifies Google search pages to add content to them, and another that strips away embedded Flash from sites that use those.

In Scoble’s world that’s evil. Call it Fear of a Linked Planet,

Dossy: we’ll have to agree to disagree. A lot of times my LACK of a link IS editorial. I can see a world where every word is linked. Do you really want that?

So in Scoble’s world an extension for Firefox that automatically created a link for every word to say Dictionary.Com would be the height of evil. Me, I think that’d be a pretty cool tool to have.

As I said before, the past few years have seen any number of content industries suddenly realize they are no longer in control of the experience that their customers have. The advent of things like the Tivo and the iPod have generally been favored by the same people who are not horrified that users might have tools in their browsers to modify their content in ways that suit the individual needs of the person visiting the site rather than the publisher.

To me, Scoble and company come off as silly as the sites I used to visit which tried to disable right-clicking and similar features to keep people from saving the page. Just give it up.

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