I was recently made aware of your 3/14 blog posting about BetterBadNews. I am unable to post a comment on that posting, as you apparently have the comment feature enabled only for recent entries. So here is my comment:
I'm the technical implementor/consultant on BetterBadNews. While the site content often doesn't represent my position, I find it provocative, funny, and creative - attributes missing from the large majority of blogs in the 'sphere.
Before the March 5th entry was published, I registered my opinion that the needs of users trump the needs of publishers, and that the ability to annotate content and share that annotation can empower users, improve the quality of the conversation, and lead to greater freedom. This was a position that I didn't see being well represented in the online conversation. However, I do agree with those who have called for caution on this issue. While it's true in theory that the Google toolbar is opt in for users, in the sense that it must be explicitly installed, in actuality, much of the software installed on non-technical users' machines was installed not by the users themselves but by well-meaning friends or relatives. So the argument that only knowledgeable users would've installed Google toolbar, and would therefore know what it is and how to uninstall it, is quite specious. More importantly, autolinking sets a precedent that could be abused later by others (e.g., Microsoft, AOL, etc.) by, for example, building link alteration into the browser and making it less visible and more difficult to disable. By raising awareness of this danger, the community is helping to ensure that web annotation evolves in a direction that balances the rights of users, content publishers, and service providers. BetterBadNews chose to represent the opinions of those expressing concerns about autolinking, and that includes a broad range of people, some of whom are certainly as bright and clued in as you imply yourself to be.
To the extent that BetterBadNews confuses some of the technical details of this issue, BetterBadNews is reflecting both the complexity of the issue and the confusion in the distributed conversation in the blogosphere. That is a primary goal of BetterBadNews- to extend and reflect that conversation, including its confusion. Based on the feedback we're getting, many people get that that's what we're about.
Regarding the technical problems with our blog, thanks for your feedback. For me, it's one of many spare time projects and I haven't had time to work out all of the technical glitches yet. With respect to your specific complaints, there are technical issues with QuickTime/browser integration that may not be easy to solve. If you know how to implement a link that plays an embedded QuickTime movie without a page reload and without using an inline frame, please let me know. The obvious workaround is to put the text into the video itself - I have suggested this but I am not doing the video production and I was asked to put the "Click to Play" text below the movies in the interim. It is possible to embed the movie into an inline frame, using a link to dynamically load the frame, but this is more complicated and it's not clear that embedding movies in multiple inline frames in a page wouldn't create even worse cross-browser compatibility issues. I haven't had time to do the testing to find out.
Regarding the use of Firefox "instead of the great and powerful IE", we primarily use Firefox on Mac OS X, not IE Windows. The "turds" you refer to are difficult to eliminate across the various popular browsers. I just inserted CSS code to style the div surrounding the enclosure as position:relative, and that seems to have addressed this issue on Firefox-Windows, but some versions of IE apparently handle position:relative incorrectly, and this fix doesn't seem to solve the problem on Safari. If you can shed light on this issue, I welcome your input.
While your criticisms are valid from a usability standpoint, these misfeatures do not manipulate the user behind her back, disguising one thing as another, as some are concerned that follow-ons to Google autolinking could do. And as for "basic awareness" of the technology we're using, our blog is implemented on top of Zope, a sophisticated web application server, using COREblog with fairly extensive code mods by me to allow embedded video and support RSS2.0 enclosures. I'd say that shows more than basic awareness of the technology, though I certainly wouldn't claim to be an expert in all of the various technologies we're using. And it's not like your own blog doesn't suffer from any technical problems. In fact, just today you discovered and acknowledged an error in your feed. I'm sure that other technical problems could be identified if someone wanted to take the time to evaluate your blog thoroughly (e.g., I can see a text layout problem on your page as rendered by Firefox Mac as I write this), but to use such problems as evidence that you are clueless in an attempt to invalidate your opinions about technology issues would be either insincere or ignorant.