Net Culture

On Smart Tags…

Because of this thread on Barbelith, I’ve suddenly become extremely politicised on the whole “Smart Tags” debate. There’s more information over at Glassdog and you’ll notice that I’ve added a button to the right hand side of the page to stir up trouble with.

For any of you that are unclear about Smart Tags – basically the new Windows XP operating system and IE6 include this feature so that Microsoft and it’s friends can insert links into every webpage that you visit if you use their browser. Every instance of ‘bookstore’ will link through to some grubby little money-making e-commerce site which is prepared to give Microsoft a sizeable amount of cash. This is a completely invasive practice. To start off with – does a link represent a tacit endorsement? At the moment, certainly. I control who I link to on and the day that you can’t tell my recommendations from those of the corporate overmind is the day that I shut the site down. But it’s also not good for consumers or users or visitors – because their choice of destination is immediately limited by a huge skewing of the playing field. In fact the only beneficiary from such an action with be Microsoft itself – and frankly they have more than enough money already. Fight this one, people.