In the Future, Internet Browses <i>YOU!</i>
On Tuesday, Google released the beta version of it's own browser, the awkwardly titled, [Chrome.] It came as a surprise announcement, maybe to Google above all, as it was a reaction to an accidental release of a comic they had produced explaining how it worked. From Google's [general blog]:_"As you may have read in the blogosphere, we hit "send" a bit early on a comic book introducing our new open source browser, Google Chrome. As we believe in access to information for everyone, we've now made the comic publicly available -- you can find it [here]. We will be launching the beta version of Google Chrome tomorrow in more than 100 countries."_Whoops. The announcement came on the first, and the beta came out the afternoon of the second. That's a pretty amazing turnaround, if you ask me. They must have been very, very close to finishing it. By the way, that comic they released was by none other than [Scott McCloud, and you can find it through him.] It's a very cute, and more than a little hipster-y way to explain how a well-run company of thinkers works.I grabbed it when I got home (it's only available for PC right now, dammit), and have been putting it through a few paces. Here are a few impressions.The install went totally smooth, even for an organizational nut like myself (You ever seen that part of The Wall when Bob Geldof organizes all the trash in his hotel room? Whadda beginner.) It handles itself well, grabbing your preferences and bookmarks from Firefox (or, I'm assuming whatever else you may be running), doesn't ask to be made the default browser, and opens up to an instructional page. Nice.It's... kind of ugly, but kind of cool. Mainly because there is no command menu, you know, the thingies up top of the window (file, edit, blah blah blah...). Come to think of it, there aren't any buttons, except forward, backwards, reload, and a star to bookmark whatever you're looking at. Everything else is in contextual menus, popping up where your pointer is. Nice, if a little daunting at first.It's also extremely blue. Until you move your window into "incognito" mode, when it turns into some dark side, Darth Browser looking thing. What's cool about it is that the computer stops recording everything you're doing, from browsing history to cookies to filled blanks. You have slipped on the [one true ring]. As in, you're invisible.What's funny is that Google, when talking about what it's for, they use the example that you might want to keep a surprise gift a secret. Yyyyeah. Gifts, not looking for Brazilian Fart Porn. That's the ticket.Also, it's crazy fast. I've never believed a browser could really improve speed, going so far as trying Opera, Firefox's ugly older sister that has all her old scantrons for your classes. But day-yum. The multi-threading approach to application processing has a lot of potential.Chrome is also capable of learning. When it is tracking your activity, it assembles a virtual profile of your habits, to the extent of when you open a new tab, instead of a blank or your home page, it gives a heads up view of your most common sites and actions. This is reflected in the new address / search / do-it-all bar, filling in all three for you.And that's where I hit a stalling point, and the critiquing begins. I'm not the type to be paranoid about gathering data about my personal life. I mean, c'mon, really. Try to rob me. Enjoy your $17 and Subway punch card. But the thought of a browser, or any software, learning to predict my moves gives me a slight feeling of disappointment, and not in any thing but myself. I like to think that I'm a treasure hunter on this ocean of information, and that some software can figure out how I work and display it to me so blatantly leaves me a bit clammy.On the other hand, this exposes Google's spine, really. It's how they work at their very core. Google gathers your habits, and generates ads, just for you. It's also their line in the virtual sand against Microsoft, who are building Internet Explorer 8 with such stringent security protocols that Google won't be able to gather said information, thus injuring their ability to do business. You also won't be able to download and install privately or independently developed software, since it will be labeled as ["Suspicious"] in the name of "Security," but that's just my private hatred for MS speaking. And, you know, the truth.Chrome's promising. Not just as a web browser, and not just as another threat to MS's [relentless pursuit of dominance], stagnation, and consumer abuse. But as a model of the paradigm shift that we are facing in computing. We have to move beyond RSS feeds, well, feeding us and accepting it as peak technology. We must develop new standards and modes of thought, and then build tools to work upon that new way, instead of the other way around, failing to innovate because the leading consumer product can't keep up. Smarter operating and smooth integration with the user is something needed since the software was imagined, as well as applications written specifically to deal with today's new standards, not just building on top of code from 1995, two internets ago. Other applications are following this trend, like [Quicksilver] and [Cloudkit], contextualizing our input, gathering our digital lives and offering it up politely when we need it, listening to our commands intellegently. This dog is finally looking trained. Also, they totally should've called it [Icewolf]. Man, that would've been awesome.-m@ : http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/armstrong/googlechrome450.jpg : http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/armstrong/googlechrome-lg.jpg : http://www.google.com/chrome/index.html?hl=en&brand=CHMA&utm_campaign=en&utm_source=en-ha-na-us-bk&utm_medium=ha&utm_term=google%20chrome : http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/09/fresh-take-on-browser.html : http://www.google.com/googlebooks/chrome/index.html : http://www.scottmccloud.com/ : http://www.tuckborough.net/onering.html : https://windowshelp.microsoft.com/Windows/en-AU/Help/074f84cf-d303-4f62-ad3c-a1fb6434ae491033.mspx : http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0324-02.htm : http://www.blacktree.com/ : http://technorati.com/tag/cloudkit : http://www.costumesinc.com/p9443/Shadow-Ice-Wolf-Ninja-Costume-Child-Ninja-Costume-Ninja-Themes.html
smerdyakov 14 years, 9 months ago
Also trying to understand how Chrome solves the problem depicted in the comic? I've not read anything else about it, but based on your blog alone, the comic would just seem to be a high-minded smokescreen for:>Microsoft, who are building Internet Explorer 8 with such stringent security protocols that Google won't be able to gather said information, thus injuring their ability to do business.<But then I'm about as suspicious of Google as I am of Microsoft... mostly bc the Googs is better at what is ultimately the same game.
alm77 14 years, 9 months ago
Is there a way to put a password on the incognito mode so that it cannot be used by, say, children?
PatrickJoseph 14 years, 9 months ago
It's always nice to run into a Yakov Smirnoff joke.
smerdyakov 14 years, 9 months ago
I'm trying to reconcile these two:>What's cool about it is that the computer stops recording everything you're doing, from browsing history to cookies to filled blanks.<>Chrome is also capable of learning. When it is tracking your activity, it assembles a virtual profile of your habits...<What?
Bethany Jones 14 years, 9 months ago
I don't read script. Script reads me.
Bryan Anderson 14 years, 9 months ago
I'm taking Chrome for a spin around the intertubes right now, and I'm liking it so far. It seems pretty intuitive and user friendly. The question is, is it necessary? I'm not sure. If it allows me to see pictures of cute dogs saying cute stuff without the embarrassment of people knowing I was looking at pictures of cute dogs saying stuff, then I'm for it.Did it just spell check my comment, or has Lawrence.com gone fancy?
matt 14 years, 9 months ago
Maybe I wasn't clear enough with it. It stops recording when running in Incognito mode. You can still bookmark, but it won't automatically remember anything about where you've been.They way that they are addressing the problem is that this is a fresh program, built with current and trending protocols in mind, as opposed to Microsoft's practice of adding more code to existing products. IE is a 13 year old browser that's been built upon to run current web applications. There are a ton of other differences that I don't get into, just read the comic and it will do a much better job than I could.And it's perfectly reasonable to be suspicious of Google. The choice of products is yours. In my case, I'm going to lean towards to company that writes open source, doesn't actively block competition, and invites the community to improve it's product.
Bethany Jones 14 years, 8 months ago
Aw, nobody liked my Tropic Thunder reference.hangs head in shame
smerdyakov 14 years, 8 months ago
Matt-- I see how all this makes sense when Explorer is the baseline. But this...>The choice of products is yours. In my case, I'm going to lean towards to company that writes open source, doesn't actively block competition, and invites the community to improve it's product.<...describes Firefox for me.If it's simply a faster version of Firefox, then great, I'm sure I'll be all over it if/when they make it for Macs.
OtherJoel 14 years, 8 months ago
OK, I've been on Chrome for about half an hour, and I'm liking it. I definitely see what you're talking about with the page loads. Zippy. See ya Firefox.
DOTDOT 14 years, 8 months ago
Incognito doesn't do anything that FF or IE won't do, it's just an easy way to flip into that mode. If THE MAN is looking for people that like pictures of cute dogs saying cute stuff, he's still going to find them.So far, I like it fine.
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