Plenty of Cowbell (I think his name is Roger) is, “very troubled by [Cory Doctorow’s] recent post defending the auto link features in the google toolbar.” He provides a screenshot to demonstrate why he thinks Cory should be against it – a screenshot of his Easter Standard Tribe news page.
The page doesn’t come close to making the case that the Auto Link stuff is “Evil” though! Sure, in the screenshot the ISBN has been made into a link. But the mouseover text clearly indicates that it is a link that was added by the Google Toolbar, and he (or any user) had to click a clearly-marked button to make anything happen in the first place.
Roger goes on to write, “Was it your intention when you made your book Eastern Standard Tribe available as a DRM-free download for anyone who wanted it, that google would make money from YOU?” The problem is that NOTHING in the AutoLink provided by Google does anything of the sort. First of all, there is no evidence that Google has any intentions of making money of the link. Secondly, the DRM-Free version of the book is still available, and just as easily as before. The AutoLink has not in any way prevented anyone from going to get it – in fact, the link to the free versions is WAY more prominent than the little AutoLink.
If anything, this screenshot proves that AutoLink is in fact NOT a threat to someone like Cory. In fact, the unhindered availability of the DRM-free versions are likely the very reason Cory supports the AutoLink feature – he has been absolutely consistent about the fact the user should have the freedom to do what they will with digital content they have received through legal means.
For me, alarmist posts like the one Roger made, with his big red “Evil” scribbling on the screenshot, are part of the problem not the solution. I and others who have no problem with AutoLink know very well the difference between user-controlled AutoLinks and not-user-controlled Smart Tags. So quit with the alarmist rhetorical posturing and make the case. Cause it hasn’t been made yet, by anyone.