February 20, 2005
Yikes! Google smart tags

In the ever raging "is Google turning evil?" blog debates, the latest evidence is "Autolinks" in the Google Toolbar 3 beta. These are hover links added to web content that direct you to Google searches for the material in question. They are similar to the Microsoft invention Smart Tags, and quite obnoxious. Not something I think I would turn on if I was using that browser. Main difference to MS Smart tags:

  • You need to turn on the feature by hand. This is a big deal. You get to choose this option
  • It's not included in the operating system - this is something you choose to install

But, it's still the same thing. In both cases the usability bonus is obvious and it makes one wonder: Is usability evil?. Usability is often about moving user actions to the subconcious level. When those actions have commercial value for the usability enhancing company the possibility for evil creeps ing.
I much prefer the firefox solution where search is truly configurable and users help each other out by adding nice search touches to the browser.
I think (at least some of) the smart tags features were/are in fact quite easy to add/configure on your own.

Posted by Claus at February 20, 2005 03:31 AM | TrackBack (0)
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