Mossberg on 'Smart Tags'
Thursday, June 7, 2001 by Dave Winer.
Now I finally understand Microsoft's "Smart Tags," thanks to this column by Walt Mossberg in today's Wall Street Journal.
They're going to give us little Word-like squiggly lines under words in Web pages. When you click on the word, whether or not the author created a link for that word, it will take you to a Microsoft website where they'll tell you more about it.
The cool thing about the Web are the clean lines of separation. Unlike mail lists you don't have to worry about someone flaming you on your own Web site. This is why the Web, uniquely, is such an exciting medium. It allows people to say what they have to say without being edited, censored, or annotated.
If Microsoft actually does this heinous act of defacement, forget about the Web as a literary medium. Forget about writing without an editor, Microsoft will be the silent editor of every site. What about their competitors? Are they going to annotate their sites too? (This is the company whose CEO recently called a competitor a "cancer.")
That they would even float such an idea as a trial balloon says they don't understand that their role, as with all software developers, is to enable communication, not own it.
Have I ever told you about my idea for the Corporate Death Penalty?
First, let me be clear that I'm against capital punishment for people, strongly so, but curiously I would have no problem with the death penalty for corporations that behave recklessly with resources that don't belong to them.
For example, I would have put Exxon to death for the Valdez disaster, to set an example for other would-be rapers of the environment.
I told this idea to my friend Robert Scoble a few weeks ago, in jest, talking about Microsoft, and he said "Dave then you'd have two Microsofts."
I said "Scoble you don't get it, after the death penalty, there would be zero Microsofts, not two."