Furor Over Google AutoLink Overblown

    February 28, 2005

It’s one thing for Microsoft to do it in typical Microsoft fashion, but it’s another thing entirely for Google to do it, Google-style.

I’m talking, of course, about Google’s AutoLink feature, introduced recently in the beta version 3.0 of the Google Toolbar.

Several leading bloggers are fanning the flames this time against Google, one of the rare instances where pundits have actually protested something the big G has done. The free ride for the golden boys with the the lava lamps couldn’t last forever, I guess.

Now, I hate to think that I love everything that Google does so much that I’m incapable of rendering an impartial judgement with Page and Brin, but… I have to say that this “controversy” over AutoLink is much ado about nuttin’, IMHO.

Think about it. We’re talking about an optional, minor feature of an optional toolbar that actually gives you a choice of which mapping service to use! How is this a feature that jeopardizes anything anyone could put on a web page? Anyone who uses this feature has to seek it out and know how to turn it on. If it benefits users, and if Google doesn’t play monkey business with it, what’s the harm?

This could be something that actually moves innovation forward, and I’d like to give Google a chance to see what they can do with it. I think Google, unlike Microsoft, has honestly earned the right to be given the benefit of the doubt.

Who knows, maybe one day they’ll open it up and allow third-party developers to tap into this capability. Would that make AutoLink more palatable? If not, then what would?

Cory Kleinschmidt is co-founder of Traffick.com, which offers a unique analysis of search engine and eBusiness trends. As Webmaster of Traffick, he designed the site, and continues to maintains it and contributes informative articles for webmasters and internet professionals.