I came across this article on the WeLL today.

Dave Winer apparently has a long diatribe on the "Danger" of the Google Toolbar, more specifically, the AutoLink feature. He gives a very scary description of how this service works. Yoz Grahame has this sarcastic reply Which very obviously pokes holes in his argument. To which Winer doesn't come up with a rational reply, but posts this pouty, ad-hom attack. To which I'll intersperse my responses

We're not having a serious discussion about the Google AutoLink feature.

Umm, actually we are. You're just not taking part in it here

Boing Boing points to a sarcastic non-refutation of my piece.

Actually, that was a sarcastic total refutation of your piece

If this is the best we can do, we deserve what we get.

That's not the best we can do, that's the best you can do. You're right. It's not much.

To the BB people, Google hasn't drawn any kind of line, saying where this can't go.

Actually, I believe this falls nicely into the "Don't be evil" philosophy espoused at Google, but keep putting up that "Slippery Slope" straw man, Dave.

And consider what heat would be generated if what Google is doing to us were done to Google. Can I put up a Web app that scrapes Google and replaces their ads with mine, or adds mine to theirs? Could Microsoft? Could AP or the New York Times?

Ahhh, here's the meat of his argument. What if everybody started doing "Evil" stuff, like making a browser plugin that replaces ads without you knowing, or replaces content without you knowing. To which, my only reply would be "So what. Say Google, or MS, or NYT developed this insidious browser plugin. Would you download it and use it? Would anyone you know do so? Would anyone at all download an app that did that to their browser? Of course not! Aside from being absolutely useless, anyone would feel dirty just using it" The slippery slope argument doesn't work in this case, because nobody would buy it. Hell, MS even tried to do something like that, and it went over like a lead balloon.

When you take that first step down the slope, take a good look at what's further down the hill, because you're going there for sure. I keep hoping for intelligent discourse in the tech blogging community, it's still pretty rare.

Wow, isn't that the pot calling the kettle black! Yoz comes up with an honest dissention, even if it was sarcastic and funny, and you resort to questioning not only his intelligence, but that of an entire community.

And to Yoz, I care, but I'm not obsessed. I think I'm looking out for you, how about helping out? Same with anyone else who publishes on the Web.

You can keep it Dave. See Yoz's response to your post for a more polite and restrained version of what I said.


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27 February 2005