Google modifying webpages

Here is a story about a new feature Google is offering on its toolbar whereby links are automatically inserted into webpages you are looking at. For example, you might be reading about a certain book and the Google program running in the background will place a link to in the webpage. Seems like a convenient feature but what about the publisher or creator of the webpage you are looking at? Don’t they have the right to control how the page looks? Or should you the user be free to modify it however you like? There’s somewhat of a controversy brewing over these issues.

HTML is inherently a client-side layout system, meaning the browser interprets the HTML and presents it a certain way. There really isn’t any way for webpage designers to know for sure how their pages will look on the other side. But is this new feature going too far? The article I’m linking to makes the interesting point that if Microsoft or Oracle or some other huge and less-loved company were doing this, the world would be up in arms.

6 Responses to “Google modifying webpages”

  1. sieber says:

    So Google’s decided to get into the act? I seem to recall that Microsoft had proposed doing this some time ago. Can’t remember the name of the project, but remember that it reminded me of why I still use a non-IE browser.

  2. Jean-Sebastien says:

    I think this feature is more than altering just the look of the page, it’s altering the
    semantic (the meaning) of the page. I don’t think google should get away with it.

  3. pete says:

    As the webslave for the MSE, I would not want tags that I do not control being inserted into my pages. You just know some smart*ss is going to find a way to use the technology to insert links to commercial pages, often having nothing to do with your page. Look at the spam that began appearing in this blog. If Google wants to do this (or Microsoft for that matter), the links should appear in a clearly identifiable box or popup window that the user chooses to turn on (or off). That way there is no confusion as to the origin of the links, and they dont look like part of the page.

    How smart is their technology, anyway? What affect would it have on a page devoted to research into breast cancer or erectile disfuntion? Yikes!

  4. liam says:

    Microsoft did/does have something like this cooking, slashdot had a story about it yesterday here.

    Of course, we always allow the user to change and modify any code that gets sent to them, we have no choice. It I really want google to suggest links, I don’t see why I couldn’t install such a program. Just like how I use a Firefox plugin to highlight non-linked links and get them to open in a new browser.

    The problems come when it’s unclear to users how the software is doing, or what it’s doing at all. Google certainly doesn’t seem to be hiding the ability, and they provide a way to turn it off. Not too evil yet…

  5. Jen says:

    While I agree that google’s idea is not fair to the webpage creators, I also think that the web, as it is, is largely for the user. Webpage creators make webpages for others to view, why shouldn’t google add to the enjoyment and usefulness of the web? or perhaps they should just keep things separate and suggest links in a column on the side of the page?