Some thought-tools

It seems to me that one of the problems with the kerfuffle about Google’s Toolbar AutoLink is the number of separate things being conflated into one “it’s teh evil!” argument, so that since we hates Google now, we does, anything that adds links to a page is one tiny slip down the slippery slope from turning your laptop into a Transformer that molests your pets. So, some thought tools that I don’t really expect will change anyone’s thinking:

OCLC is, in library terms at least, a Big(Nonprofit)Co. Built on the tax dollars of, among others, hardworking Amazon employees, they own a huge database of library holdings. With a bookmarklet from this page, whenever you are on an Amazon page, thinking about buying a book, you can instead click your bookmarklet, and find out if your local public library owns it, and reserve it right then and there. They use Amazon’s efforts to market books, leading you to the one you want through Amazon’s search results, or What’s Related links, or customer reviews, and then they strike right at the heart of their business, stealing away Amazon customers from their own page. Evil, or not?

Borrowing code from them, and Jesse’s Buglinkify bookmarklet, library-link is a bookmarklet that will convert unlinked ISBNs in the page you are viewing to links to see if your local library owns the book (if you are using Opera, or a Gecko-based browser like Firefox, or perhaps Safari, but not the hapless Internet Explorer, and with only moderately good recognition code, and only for things in the Open WorldCat pilot, and sometimes it will take several clicks to get them all). More evil, or not?

Since Amazon’s been bearing the brunt so far, how about Amazonify, a bookmarklet that will convert all unlinked ISBNs on the page into Amazon links. It’s just code, it doesn’t care whether you use it nicely on an unlinked bibliography, hoping to educate yourself, or on a more politically correct competitor’s site. Evil sometimes, evil always, or not?

But that leaves Amazon affiliate money on the table. If I could be bothered to sign up, I’d make it my own, but since I can’t: because I built that useful tool for you, I want to give some profit to my favorite web- and pod-casting station, Whole Wheat Radio, so AmazonifyWWR. Is that too much to ask, in return for my providing you with this handy tool? How about if I don’t tell you, and just put it in there?

Since I certainly don’t care how you remix my page, some ISBNs to play with: 0130923915, 032116332X, 1578050847.


Comment by Mark #
2005-02-27 18:41:03

There are already some Firefox extensions whose authors use/abuse Amazon links as a form of forced shareware payment. e.g. BetterSearch

Charming licensing terms, eh? At least he’s up front about it. (The inevitable upcoming Firefox-based spyware certainly won’t be.)

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2005-02-27 19:14:31