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RE: [decentralization] Re: Opting-out by websites

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  • Robert Scoble
    ... As a Microsoft MVP (read: a guy who likes Microsoft) I really really really want to support you guys on this one. But I can t. You aren t another little
    Message 1 of 62 , Jun 16, 2001
      >>OK, I am honestly confused at the outrage over the smart tags.

      As a Microsoft MVP (read: a guy who likes Microsoft) I really really really
      want to support you guys on this one.

      But I can't. You aren't another "little company." You own my entire
      computing experience (practically, especially now since even my hobby is
      Microsoft owned).

      Users and Web site designers see this as yet another way Microsoft can get
      its tentacles into my life.

      Yes, the idea of SmartTags is cool.

      The fact is, that because Bill Gates controls them (and, despite your
      protestations, he +does+ control them for most users and most Web sites)
      they scare the bejeebers out of me.

      About half of my hatred of this feature is the total lack of control that I
      -- as a Web master -- have over them. This isn't a little dinky company that
      no one pays attention to (like Third Voice). This is Microsoft. My mom will
      download and use stuff from Microsoft. She won't download and use stuff from
      a dinky little company like Third Voice.

      I have the latest build of Windows XP here, and I know this feature is
      changing with every build (I hope to report that in a future build it's
      gone, but so far it's getting worse and worse with every build).

      Today I learned from Dave's site that future versions of XP will have a
      button that will let users turn them on. In other words, the early "spin" on
      this feature was pure lies (go back and read the Wall Street Journal article
      that announced this IE6.0 specific feature to the world).

      I also tested the meta tag today on Dave's site. It doesn't work. Why?
      Because the user can override it (and will, cause of course all users want
      to see all meta tags). This really, really, really, really sucks.

      What happens if someone like, say, Microsoft, decides to "SmartTag" the
      words "technical conference" and let's say that Microsoft will only list its
      "approved" conferences there. I didn't remember Microsoft paying me to
      advertise on my site without permission (I work for Fawcette Technical
      Publications as a conference planner, and we have an interest place in the
      industry: we are both a Microsoft partner, and a Microsoft competitor since
      Microsoft both sponsors our shows, and hosts its own conferences as well).

      As a Web master, I have now lost control of the content on my page and this
      GREATLY pisses me off.

      You know Jonathan, I am honestly suprised that you are defending these
      things. My Web site is my Web site and I really am offended at Microsoft at
      trying to put tags on my site that take my users off of my site (and don't
      even give me the control to turn off these tags).

      >Since anyone can make
      >smarttags (and I have seen some non-MS versions already deployed; one
      >for doctors, to allow a particular group of doctors to link directly
      >to relevant medical applications on their intranet when particular
      >things appear),

      Um, I'm a pretty technical person, but I don't have the tools or the
      wherewithal to build a DLL. Most of the people who attend our Web Design and
      Development conferences have no clue about how to do that. Most of them also
      don't really know XML. And, finally, is Microsoft going to pay my costs (and
      others costs) of software development and testing just to override a feature
      that is intrustive? What the f*** is this all about?

      >and since the user is the one who ultimately chooses
      >which smart tags he or she will view, it seems like the ultimate
      >democratic tool.


      Have you looked at IE6? As a user I have no freaking clue where these
      SmartTags are coming from. When I visit Scripting News and the word
      "Microsoft" is underlined, I have no idea WHO built that SmartTag. My mom
      would assume that that came from Dave, not from Microsoft "I'm on Dave's
      site" she would say.

      >The SDK for creating smart tags was available long
      >before the release of smart tags, and it is really not that difficult
      >to create these things.

      Yeah, for you it's not difficult to write a device driver and slash out 1000
      lines of XML code in a few hours. For me, I'm a mere mortal, not a
      programmer. That stuff is IMPOSSIBLE for me to do.

      Yet, I +can+ edit HTML. Why the hell is Microsoft taking away my control of
      my content?

      You are SO WRONG ON THIS ISSUE I can't even see straight typing to you
      tonight. Microsoft's water must brainwash you all into thinking it's OK to
      mess with everyone's lives and content in whatever way you guys want. This
      issue IS THAT SERIOUS!!!

      >It is quite possible, for example, for slashdot to create a smart tag
      >for their fans to download, which will point to open source versions
      >of any commercial software tool that happens to be mentioned in a

      You mean I can go to Slashdot, download their tags and only Slashdot's tags
      will work from then on, no matter what site I visited? So, when I go to
      Microsoft's site, and the word "Microsoft" is SmartTagged by Slashdot, and
      it offers to take me to the Microcrap site, Bill Gates will stand for that?

      I do NOT believe you on this issue. That certainly is NOT how they behave by
      default. And, since building new tags takes a programmer with experience
      enough to build a DLL and some XML code, only a very few sites will do this.

      >Not only is this sort of thing likely, it is exactly the sort
      >of thing that smart tags are hoping will happen. Saying that one
      >company will control smart tags is like saying that IBM would try to
      >build a computer that only ran software produced by IBM.

      The problem is that Microsoft will control 100% of the tags out of the gate.
      The problem is that Microsoft +is+ a monopoly. The problem is that Microsoft

      Imagine if Microsoft told the world "you can put your own little ads under
      each word in Fawcette's magazines." I'm sure those of you getting free ads
      would really love that feature, but as an owner of content, I'd really be

      >This is one
      >reason why third voice failed, and this is a reason that comet cursor
      >has difficulties -- you get only what they give you.

      No, those two failed because they are dinky little companies that built
      annoying features that most people didn't care about and didn't download.
      Who gives a crud about having weird looking cursors. I've had the ability to
      change mine since at least 1995 (that feature is built into Windows for
      those who have a little computing skill) but I hate weird cursors.

      >If someone
      >makes a smart tag that lots of people like, those people use IE.
      >This could perhaps explain why the smart tag SDK has been available
      >for so long. Smart Tag *is* a platform and *must* be a platform; it
      >would be bizarre to think otherwise.

      Fine. Don't ship ANY SmartTags implemented. Include the feature, but make a
      promise that Microsoft won't ship their own by default.

      Maybe if Microsoft played nice, and explained these features, and gave OTHER
      PEOPLE SOME INPUT AND OWNERSHIP then we'd be able to calmly discuss things.
      The fact is Microsoft uses its monopoly power to get its way in this
      industry and this feature looks like a gun aimed at my head and I don't like
      it one bit.

      >BTW, I have seen a few implementations of people making their own
      >smart tags. One was a hospital group that uses smart tags that
      >automatically connect the doctor to relevant intranet apps when
      >certain keywords are recognized.

      Why do insiders who see things Microsoft's way always get advance notice?
      Why doesn't the entire industry learn about a feature at the same time? Why
      can't Microsoft come clean on this one?

      >Also note that a smart tag is *not* a hyperlink, and does *not*
      >replace any hyperlinks that might exist. The so-called "smart tag"
      >is not as obtrusive as a hyperlink, and must be deliberately "rolled
      >open" by a user who is interested in seeing what sort of actions the
      >smart tag engine has suspected are possible.

      Actually, on my computer it is MORE obtrusive than a hyperlink. It looks
      like a misspelled word in my build of Windows XP. That's another thing I
      hate about them. Users will mistake these things as misspelled or "wrong"
      words because they look similar to the "squiggly underline" in Word.

      >Has anyone who is
      >complaining about this actually used a smart tag?

      I have them turned on right now and they are pissing me off even more as I
      use them (not only is the feature bad, but in the beta it's also broken at
      the moment).

      >I would
      >hope that people have actually looked at the thing they are

      Well, Microsoft is hiding behind NDAs and non-released software. So, most
      people won't have had a chance to try them yet.

      >Next, I hope people realize that smart tags are aimed at "actions"
      >and not necessarily "hyperlinks". I could hover over a person's name
      >for example, "roll open" the smart tag, and have it dial the person
      >on the telephone. So you can also hyperlink. Big deal.

      Well, the only word SmartTagged in my version of IE6 is "Microsoft" so that
      doesn't bode well for demonstrating the action part of SmartTags.

      >Now, the really subversive part of smart tags is that they allow
      >someone like slashdot to attach actions to a page that was not
      >necessarily created by them.

      And you're defending this? Dude. Why don't you give me the ability to put
      comments in your code before you turn it into your boss for code review?
      That's the same thing you're allowing others to do to MY work!

      >This is where I have perhaps
      >misunderstood the idea of "editthispage", which technically allows
      >only approved "editors" to edit a page.

      I don't get where you're going...

      >But on the other hand, the
      >smart tag does not modify the site (please use a smart tag before
      >arguing with this).

      No. It modifies the RENDERING of my site. I can prove this. Turn on
      SmartTags in IE6. Go to Scripting.com. OK. See the SmartTags? Yes? OK, now,
      turn off SmartTags. Now, open the HTML in your browser's cache. Still see
      SmartTags? Yes! You have MODIFIED MY SITE (well, in this case Dave's site).

      >And it seems that the decision of whether or not
      >to have smart tags available should be up to the user, not the site

      This is where you are WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG.

      1) Microsoft is getting free advertising on my site and putting that
      advertising on my site without asking me, nor getting my permission. I plan
      on supporting a class-action lawsuit against Microsoft to collect damages
      for the cost of that advertising.

      2) My content is MINE. I did NOT give you the right to fuck with it! So,
      don't! And, let ME control what goes on MY site.

      >A smart tag is nothing more than a metadata plugin that
      >allows people to share metadata.

      Wrong. It's nothing more than a Microsoft ploy to:

      1) Change the content of my site.
      2) Get free advertising on my site.
      3) Get more traffic to visit their own sites.

      >It is as if you have hired a person
      >from slashdot to sit with you as you browse the web and whisper in
      >your ear "psst, you can get that software for free over here"
      >whenever you go to a page that has commercial software on it.

      Right. Only it's worse. It's Bill Gates sitting with you as you browse the
      Web saying "come over and visit a Microsoft site cause we have cool stuff."
      That's called advertising. I plan on sending Microsoft a bill for
      advertising on my site without my permission.

      >seems frankly quite facist to insist that your users not be permitted
      >to browse your site with whatever little helpers they like.

      Actually, it's facist to insist that Microsoft be allowed to place
      advertising on my site without my permission. And, without explaining to the
      users who is really fucking with the content on my site.

      >It is
      >like a store owner kicking your wife out of the store because she
      >keeps telling you "those tools are too expensive".

      No. It's like kicking a competitor out of my store who keeps telling my
      customers "my store is better." I used to run a camera store and I +did+
      kick competitors out of my stores. In fact, Fry's doesn't let anyone take
      pictures inside of its stores just so that it's harder to do price shopping
      and so that other stores can't get merchandising expertise back to
      management as easily.

      My store doors are my store doors and if I want to kick your wife out of my
      store I should be allowed to do that (and, I HAVE kicked people out of my
      store before who were jerks).

      >If the user
      >doesn't like the little whispers they get about the pages they visit,
      >they'll ask their smart tag to go sit in the car.

      Wrong. The store should be able to keep its competitors from stealing its
      customers inside of its doors.

      >Furthermore, smart tags are *exactly* about sharing metadata.
      >Metadata is "data about data".

      No. SmartTags are about Microsoft stealing my customers and getting free
      advertising on my site.

      >For example, consumer reports
      >provides metadata that rates the stuff that advertising companies
      >tell you.

      And, how would Consumer Reports feel about being forced to take advertising
      from Microsoft, without having a choice in the matter? Huh? Where is
      editorial integrity? Every word in Consumer Reports was written by consumer
      reports and I don't want that to change.

      >If all of consumer reports metadata could be vetoed by the
      >companies they reported on, that would sort of defeat the purpose,

      You are really messed up. Dude. You need to come out in the real world and
      see what the other end of the Microsoft gun looks like.

      Consumer reports metadata is decided on by consumer reports. What Microsoft
      is doing is shipping a default set of metadata to the world that BY DEFAULT
      takes people off of my site and onto a Microsoft site.

      And I have no freaking choice in the matter.

      >Metadata *must* be independent (in a "freedom" sense) of the
      >data. Would I pay money to consumer reports for a smart tag that
      >takes me to reviews of products mentioned on pages I am visiting?
      >You bet!!

      Consumers want all sorts of crap. I also want a copy of Microsoft Office for
      free. Why can't I have that too? You know, there are Warez sites giving out
      copies of Microsoft stuff as we speak. I bet you won't support my "warez"
      metatags that point to where to download copies of Microsoft Office for
      free, will you?

      >Can you choose to *not* buy the consumer reports smart tag
      >if you think those guys are liars? You bet!! Like any metadata,
      >users are free to choose whichever metadata sources they trust (or
      >none at all). The *only* thing that smart tags do is make it
      >possible to get that metadata.

      The problem is, most consumers will stick with the default tags and won't
      even know where the info is coming from. Visit Dave's site with Metatags
      turned on and you'll think that Dave gave you all that nice information.
      When in fact, it's Microsoft getting free advertising.

      >The web up to this point has allowed only exchange of data. Tim
      >Berners-Lee's vision of the next phase of the web is about allowing
      >people to share metadata.

      I don't think Tim Berners-Lee had in mind that Microsoft would get free
      advertising on the Internet.

      >The web blew away the boundaries of
      >publishing by allowing anyone to be a publisher.

      Yeah, because you didn't need to know C++ and how to build a DLL.

      >Of course, only
      >techies could be publishers up until the point that blogs made it
      >much easier to publish.

      That's wrong. There were GUI tools as early as 1996. I know, Microsoft named
      me one of the top five users of FrontPage in 1996. I wasn't a techie and I
      published LONG before blogs came along. I've only been publishing my blog
      since December 2000 at http://scobleizer.manilasites.com

      >The next stage of the web, as envisioned by
      >lots of smart people at the W3C, is to allow anyone to publish
      >metadata about anything else.

      Is this really true? If so, this vision of the Web sucks. I think I'll take
      down my content and start taking up Apple farming or pottery. At least Bill
      Gates will leave me alone for a while in those endeavors.

      I will NOT willingly support a movement that lets other people change my
      content and/or get free advertising on top of my content. Sorry. But that's
      a HORRIBLE vision of what the Web should be.

      >Smart tags are very much like the
      >first stages of the web in that anyone can publish metadata, so long
      >as they learn the technical side, and they need to advertise in
      >search engines, etc. to get people aware of their metadata.


      >But we are just the
      >laborers dragging these rails and can only do so much.

      You know, you're sounding a lot like the ugly monster railroads of the
      1860s. Ripping off the farmers and the little people and doing whatever the
      hell you want to us. Dude, you really need to get a grip on what you're

      >Finally, I suspect that the particular nationality (oh, I
      >mean "corporate affiliation") of the laborers who agreed to lay the
      >railroad track is a large part of the objection people have.

      It's about half the problem. I'd have the same problem if Netscape tried to
      do this. Or Oracle. Or IBM. Or our government. Monopolies should NOT be able
      to get free advertising on my back!!

      Heck, at least Doubleclick will pay me $6.50 per 1000 pageviews -- and I can
      decide whether or not to sign up with them to do that. Here I have no choice
      in the matter.

      >They would probably avoid something controversial like political
      >party information (and people will get their "politics" smart tags
      >from their political party office, NRA, or whatever anyway).

      In other words. They'd behave like a drug dealer. Here kiddie kiddie kiddie,
      try this smack. Isn't that good? Want some more? Oh, now you've gotta "pay."
      In this case, two years down the line, how can I be sure that Microsoft
      doesn't all of a sudden SmartTag words like "Developer conference" and take
      my customers that I worked hard to get to visit my site, back off to TechEd
      or PDC? I don't remember signing up for a Microsoft affiliate program. Oh,
      wait, I have a monopolist's gun aimed at my head telling me "you vil sign up
      for our affiliate program and you vil like it!"

      >would have just about zero incentive to try developing every smart
      >tag a person would want; why do all of that work when they are not a
      >gomez.com or consumer reports anyway?? So far, do you still hate this

      Yes I do. They are getting free advertising on my site without my
      permissiona and they are making my content look ugly with squiggly little
      lines. And they weren't nice about it and asked whether or not I wanted that
      to happen.

      >If they were finally noticed by some other big company and
      >purchased for wider distribution of the technology, would it then
      >suddenly become immoral? This isn't meant to be argumentative, I am
      >honestly curious. So I want to know which parts of this make people
      >so alarmed:
      >1. Is it the sharing of metadata that is alarming?

      No. It's the fact that it's being forced down our throats and that we have
      no control in the matter.

      >2. Is it the fact that control over viewing the metadata lies solely
      >in the hands of the users and cannot be taken away by someone who
      >wishes to suppress users access to collateral information?


      >3. Is it the fact that a particular company wrote this, and it would
      >be more acceptable from someone else?

      It would not be acceptable behavior from ANYONE.

      Robert Scoble
      Just my own opinions and not those of anyone else including my employer.
    • Phil Wolff
      Are Smart Tags merely more user control over their surfing experience? I remember a similar complaint in the mid 1990s. Some creators of content (in particular
      Message 62 of 62 , Jun 20, 2001
        Are Smart Tags merely more user control over their surfing experience?

        I remember a similar complaint in the mid 1990s. Some creators of
        content (in particular designers coming from print media) did not
        want web surfers adjusting background or text colors or choosing
        their own fonts and text sizes or resizing window shapes or changing
        how links looked or behaved. The authors wanted control over how
        every dot and tiddle looked. Why? First, because they knew better
        than the user how to make aesthetic design decisions. Second, because
        all those decisions created a collective effect and messing with a
        few changed the whole experience of the publication.

        One response was the creation and adoption of Adobe Acrobat. Absolute
        control, reduced interaction, proprietary technology.

        Another was the acknowledgement that sometimes users know better how
        to consume information. e.g. weak eyesight, bigger text.

        And the semantic web is the latest response: metadata and context are
        a surfer's best friend in an infoglut world.

        So I gotta ask:

        If you haven't been worried when users:
        - read your whois to find out who you really are vs. who you say you
        - run your site through a translator to see it in piglatin or Italian
        - transcode it for delivery on a 2 inch black and white reduced-
        interaction screen (AvantGo),
        - turn off your bloated pictures
        - turn off your carefully crafted javascript or applets or flash,
        - get flashing red lights if your site fails a morality-filter,
        - see what other people think of your products while still surfing
        your site, or
        - play your site through a text-to-speech converter

        Then what concerns do you have now about users exercising their
        apparent "fair use" right to add another layer of cross references
        and context to their experience of your site?

        Users have been messing with your content for a while. What has
        changed that you don't trust them?

        ---- pause. deep breath. ---

        There is that thing about Microsoft. It owns my desktop. It owns my
        view of the web. It owns most of the tools I use to compose my ideas.

        A concentration of power.

        The public architecture [I almost said open but you won't catch me
        doing that in *this* forum] creates a marketplace for annotation and
        augmentation services. So that users can choose what kinds of context
        and commentary they want to add to their surfing experience.

        Microsoft still has the first word. I'd just like to assure that
        their customers have the last.

        - phil wolff, http://dijest.com
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