Reading, Writing and 3rd Party Intervention

As a reader, I subscribe to the precept “personal use is fair use” - that I’m free to slice and dice content for my personal use once it has been legally obtained.

As a blog author, I accept that act of distributing my words via RSS entails the loss of control over how those words are presented. But the words remain mine and should always be presented with proper context and attribution - a link that attributes the words back to the original source and context that makes authorship clear without following the link.

Now, Google Autolink raises the possibility that my two personas may be in conflict. So I fired up a windows box and took autolink out for a test drive.

And I have to say that I’m conflicted. As an author, I find it offensive for a 3rd party to insert links into my content. But as a reader, I found the link between address and map convenient. And I suspect that I would like the link between books and listings as well.

Scoble sees this as the start of a slippery slope. I rarely find slippery slope arguments persuasive - they always seem to require that I sacrifice an immediate good to preclude a hypothetical bad. I’d much rather adjudicate the brink step by step. And right now, here’s where I draw the line:

  1. Automatic Autolink is several steps too far. Don’t go there.
  2. Undo should be more prominent. Find the link may be more useful, but undo autolinks is more important.
  3. Style the autolinks. There should never be any ambiguity between the original content and the added autolinks.

1 Mar: Life is a Camel