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The most interesting Internet development in weeks...

By far the most interesting Internet development I have seen in weeks was a New York Times piece by Noam Cohen called: "Whiting out the ads, but at what cost?"

  • The piece is about: "Adblock Plus, an easy-to-use free addition to the Firefox Internet browser that deletes advertisements from Web sites." 
  • "...Adblock Plus — while still a niche product for a niche browser — is potentially a huge development in the online world..."
  • "The larger importance of Adblock is its potential for extreme menace to the online-advertising business model. After an installation that takes but a minute or two, Adblock usually makes all commercial communication disappear. No flashing whack-a-mole banners. No Google ads based on the search terms you have entered."
  • "...if enough people rally to Adblock and similar services, they could be considered the TiVo for the computer, but without any expensive equipment or service charges. And perhaps most critically, as an open-source project, Adblock is the hands of anyone who wants to contribute. [bold added]

What's most fascinating is that Google's strategy of embracing open source as a way to defeat Microsoft may backfire on Google.

  • Maybe open source, the "enemy of their enemy," (Microsoft) is not Google's "friend" after all...
  • Interestingly, this new Adblock Plus open source threat to Google is on top of another significant open source threat to Google's committment to "openness"...
      • Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, is launching an open source search engine project because:
        • "It's not a good thing that we are getting search results from a handful of very large players and we have no idea how they are generated," Wales said in a interview with the Mercury News. "It's like getting all your news from one source." 
  • If Google was truly for an "open Internet" they would be publicly trumpeting both Adblock Plus and the open source search engine as the type of 'garage-inspired innovation" that Google says makes the Internet great.
  • Embracing both Adblock Plus (the ultimate in unobtrusive online advertising) and making search engines open and transparent (so people can see what biases and content discrimination goes on in ranking search results) -- would prove to all that Google was serious and genuine in its support of an "Open Internet" -- and not cynically using populist rhetoric when and only when it is to Google's corporate advantage. 

Lastly, I feel compelled to highlight outstanding Internet humor when I see it. Cohen's Times piece quotes Microsoft in a very funny deadpan public statement on this Adblock Plus development:

  • "In a statement, Microsoft spoke of its success in permitting third-party developers to “add value to the browser experience through the creation of add-ons.” The statement continues: “The range of add-ons available does include ad blocking software. It would not be appropriate for Microsoft to comment on the merits or demerits of a specific add-on, or group of add-ons. Provided they have not been designed with malicious intent and do not compromise a user’s privacy or security, Microsoft is pleased to see new add-ons that add to the range of options that users have for customizing their browsing experience.”"

Let me translate Microsoft's deadpan and cutting humor, which mockingly drips in Google-like sanctimonious prose:

  • "Two can play Google's game.
  • While Google is free to egg on open source software competition to assault our core software franchise, Microsoft is free to egg on open source Adblock software, which just as savagely assaults Google's dominant search franchise. 
  • Turnabout is fair play."

I can hear the Googlers whining now... "but market's aren't fair unless we always win..."