Scoble has some good ideas about how all those nifty toolbars and other link changing thingies should behave:
1) Ship the butler with no default behaviors. Have the user load “behavior packs.” Make these “behavior packs” produceable by anyone. One of the packs could even be “the behave in content owner’s wishes pack.” I, the content producer guy, could then opt in and do stuff with that pack. Other packs? “the Google walled garden pack.” That would only take you to Google stuff. Of course, I’d quickly do one for Microsoft. You might like it. It’d take you to MSDN and other places inside our walled garden.
2) Put a logo next to each added link. That way users can tell who added the link, and which pack is doing it.
3) If two packs, or butlers, are fighting over a link, let them both display. That means there’d need to be a layer with links on it showing who is trying to link the ISBN number, for instance, to various places (or even the same place, albeit with different URLs).
4) Make it possible for the browser manufacturer to let the user know when a non-original link is being displayed. I hope future versions of IE, Opera, and Firefox, can have a mode of “show me only original links.” That would guarantee that the link system would keep its integrity.
5) Make it so that end users and content producers can produce their own packs and make it easy to share those packs with other “butler 1.0” users.
6) Make sure that “butler” users have the ability to go in and change the behavior of any of their butlers. Let them, for instance, go in and remove Google Maps from AutoLinks and put in some new map that comes out after the butler ships. Also, let them add in their own links for things that aren’t linked yet.
Does that sound sane? What would you like your butler to do?”
All very good ideas. But I think he’s missing the main point: the makers of these butlers WANT to lock you in! It’s in their best commercial interest (at least so they think) that you don’t do your own stuff, but follow their guides.