Archive for June 3rd, 2005

Firefox Search Plugin for Creative Commons

June 3rd, 2005

I was talking with some of the folks at Creative Commons recently — Creative Commons is housed in the same building as the Open Source Applications Foundation which I visit periodically and so we get a chance to compare notes now and then.

Firefox 1.x ships with a Creative Commons search plugin. The CC folks noted that they’ve received a few phone calls from people who must have inadvertently activated the drop-down menu and selected Creative Commons as their active search engine. There are undoubtedly many people who do this intentionally, as I do when I’m looking for a photo I can use for some purpose. But these folks must have done so inadvertently because they called Creative Commons to complain. And not gently – the messages were angry, along the lines of: “You’ve hijacked my computer.” “You’ve taken away Google and put yourself in their place.” “I can’t believe that an organization like Creative Commons would behave in this manner.”

Of course, Creative Commons hasn’t done anything of the sort; the plugin sits in the list of available search engines and becomes active only when selected. And by using the drop down box and selecting the preferred search engine the angry user can return to the search engine he or she likes best. Some people apologize when this is explained, others remain angry.

The anger is not new — people call the Mozilla Foundation and scream at us for not providing free support to go with the free product. What strikes me is not that people are angry. What strikes me is the number of people who feel their computer is out of control and that things are happening that they don’t understand and don’t trust, and the enormous level of pent-up frustration that surrounds many people trying to find their way on the web.

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