Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Google's Tool Bar Links Stir Debate

Google's Tool Bar Links Stir Debate
Okay, so new Google Toolbar with Smart Tags, I meant AutoLinks.
Good bad or just plain ugly?
Google is billing this as a benefit to User Experience and not the Big Brother override of Microsofts publicly ill-received Smart Tags.

Here's my issue.
1. I'm a Goggle fan. I was never against smart tags aside from the lack of user options and control it removed from the document creator. I liked the context sensitive markings that

Flyswat had before it mysteriously vanished. Half of the functionality the Google outlines provide I use everyday with Firefox Extensions (QueryTo / Drag n' Go) etc.
I'm loving my Gmail account and any box that lacks 'sensitive' material is running Google Desktop search.

The sole gripe I have is not the idea, but who was asked about it. From a user standpoint, its smart 'push technology'. Here's an address, how do I get there, perhaps something the webmaster should have included in the first place.
However, from a Webmaster standpoint, I have no way of controlling whether the user has this option by default over my default settings or not. If I sell books, and a user comes to my web site,

I would probably not have that service too long if every link I had was redirected to Amazon.com. While it's hardly illegal to search elsewhere, my page should not be

overriden and un-viewable or unusable for my purpose by an industry giants plug-in, as that was neither the users nor the site's point. If the suggested alternate links appeared in a side-bar or some way that does not interfere with the designed purpose of the site, then OK.

Google, if you choose to implement this, I'm almost all for it.
However, you need to also provide for a way to disable this feature via Meta tags or other means. I'm losing business as a bookseller, and I'm also opening up a whole bunch of security and context information by redirecting output from my possible content sensitive 'For your eyes only' pages.

2. User elected -
Sure, the user chose to install the plugin and activate the option, but how many users understand that 'by installing this option, the original page may not function as intended?'.
admidst all this talk of phishing and spoofing, the end-user now truly has no idea who's option is being selected.

- My 2 cents

PS - I'll be happy to recant my statement if the actual implementation does not have this impact.