MSN Search Blog: MSN Found.
Since MSN admits that I was talking about MSN Found, I want to apologize. My rant was harsh. Hanan Cohen, a reader of mine, pulled me aside and said I was too harsh in my wording and unprofessional.
I agree. One thing I really appreciate about Microsoft is that we're encouraged to take risks. Come up with new ideas. And not get personal about attacking other people. Attack the ideas, yes, not the person.
I got personal. I'm sorry about that. It's not the way I'd want to be treated.
We've posted our first chapter over on the Red Couch. Steve Lacey already praised it. Thanks! Bob Wyman, founder of my favorite blog search engine, Pubsub.com, wonders if the book will still be useful by the time it's published.
Just so you understand that my stance on SmartTags and AutoLink isn't a Microsoft vs. Google thing, I'd suggest you go back and read some of what I wrote in 2001.
I called Microsoft evil over the SmartTags feature and I called the feature itself evil. Here, you can read what I wrote over on Yahoo.
Yesterday, Chris DiBona, of Google, wrote in my comments (I'm reposting his entire message here):
there is a lot of talk going on as if what Google (my employer) is doing is the same as what Microsoft did. We allow the user to never install the toolbar and never use the feature. Remember that -every single time- you want the features of autolink you have to click the button. If bloglines put out a toolbar, and there was a button that would indicate the feeds and subscribe me to them....oh wait, they already do with thier book marklet. This is only a slippery slope if you want to exaggerate what the toolbar does to justify poor behavior. Again, I assume people are responsible if they choose to install the toolbar and that by clicking on the autolink button to get the links, that they want them. How random of me is that! User choice is the difference.
Additionally, I love this talk about us inspiring a new generation of malware...what kind of dream world have people been living in? People have been creating crappy malware laden, involuntary ad and content rewriting toolbars for years. Years.
In the meantime, as I've said before, if you don't like what the toolbar does...do not use it. You have a choice.
I believe that anything that changes the linking behavior of the Web is evil. Anything that changes my content is evil. Particularly anything that messes with the integrity of the link system. And I do see this as a slippery slope. Today users have to jump through hoops to use this feature. What about tomorrow? Oh, and Google says they won't be evil, but what about their competitors who haven't taken such an anti-evil stance? (Hint: Microsoft isn't the only Google competitor).
Now, some other people tried to make the point that popup ad blockers and Tivo should also be seen as evil, then.
That's pushing the point a little far. The fundamental building block of the Web is linking. Linking is MY EDITORIAL CONTENT. That's different than advertising. And, if you got rid of popups, I still am able to get my point across here. In fact, I don't use them. And I don't have advertising here, so my point is still OK.
As for Tivo letting you fast forward through commercials? That's not evil. If it were, scrolling down fast on my web page would be evil and that's not. Here's the difference: fast-forwarding does NOT change the integrity of the content. It doesn't CHANGE any of the content. It doesn't ad its own advertising and it doesn't allow CBS to put its own advertising on top of ABC's content. And, you're already seeing the networks responding by turning their editorial content into advertising. Watch Extreme Home Makeover, for instance. The entire show is an advertisement for Sears and whoever is the homebuilder of the week. Try to fast forward through that! Again, the system has integrity, even though you have a Tivo. Now, visit microsoft.com. Click "AutoLink" and all of a sudden new links appear (and Google didn't even make them appear any different like SmartTags did). Hint, now Microsoft's sites have ads for Google's sites on them. The integrity of the page is gone. The intent of the page's author is gone.
No. This feature is akin to forcing CBS to putting up with ABC running advertisements on top of CBS's content. It +is+ an evil idea. It was an evil idea BEFORE I became a Microsoft employee. It is an evil idea now. I used that word very specifically back in 2001 before I was a Microsoft employee.
Now, if it's an evil idea, is it not evil because you force your customers to install it, sign a EULA, and click a button to see it?
If it's an evil idea, is it not evil because other people have been implementing the idea for years?