John Andrews is a Competitive Webmaster and Search Engine Optimization Consultant in Seattle, Washington. This is John Andrews blog on issues of interest to the SEO community and competitive webmasters. Want to know more?

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Nobody wants to be a Tool

To define “tool” check definition #2  here and Wikipedia here.
Nobody likes to be a tool (or a fool), but it maybe worse to be shown you have been (or are) a tool.  In fact, experiencing the sensations of someone showing you how you’ve been cheated is worse than being cheated. Ever been fooled? Sure you have. Ever been exposed to be a fool in public? Much worse. Why?

If you seek to learn, in order to succeed,  you should welcome the realization of being someone’s fool. That awareness fuels your advance towards enlightenment. To be a tool is to be fooled into working for the benefit of someone else. A fool makes a good tool. A fool that is never enlightened makes for a very, very productive “tool”. This is sounding like a Dr. Seuss post. Did you stumble on the word “fuel” used above? I do. Funny.
Enter the “toolbar”. Do you have the Google Toolbar installed? How about the Yahoo! Toolbar? Or someone else’s Tool Bar? Ever wonder why it is called a “tool” bar? I never wondered about that. In the old days the “toolbar” was a place for the icons that represent “tools” such as search, spell check, and cut and paste. You found those “tools” in the ToolBar.

These days it seems that installable browser Toolbars are for Tools – the kind that unwittingly enrich the pockets of others. Install my Toolbar, and I can learn all sorts of data about you that I can sell to marketers for money. We all know that data is worth something, but do we all acknowledge that we trade it for the convenience of the functionality of the ToolBar when we install the Toolbar?

What would you pay for that Toolbar software? I doubt you would pay $5 for the convenience it brings, if it wasn’t free.  Now how much will you sell your personal market data for? I doubt you would settle for $5 if offered. Right?

There’s a market inefficiency waiting tobe exploited. Here’s a funny thing – I bet a whole bunch of you would not pay $5 for the Yahoo! Toolbar partly because you don’t trust the small Internet credit card transaction… your gut feeling says it’s not worth the hassle and the risk. So instead you download it “anonymously” for free, and proceed to hand over all your consumer data to Yahoo! for nothing.

About that market inefficiency… did you know that Google pays a dividend to webmasters that promote the Google toolbar? It’s an affiliate program now…tell users to download Firefox and the Google toolbar, and if they instal it, you get  $1. With tens of millions of Firefox downloads  out there, that could be tens of millionsof dollars in affiliate cash. Firefox itself got over $90 million from Google a year ago as an “affiliate” of Google’s advertising programs.
“In any deal, look around the room and find the fool. If you can’t figure out who is the fool, it is probably you”.  I read that on Blog Maverick. I like it.  It doesn’t always apply, but it sure does when it comes to Tool Bars.

Under the standard software setup, the only thing that uniquely identifies you as an internet user is your IP number.  If marketing people or government tyrannies want to know what you do on the Internet, they merely have to get your ISP to reveal your IP number and they can track everything. Of course your ISP is bound by law and the Patriot Act to provide that, so whatever… one price of the Internet is government tyrannies can watch everything you do.

How about commercial tyrannies entities?  How about your neighbor’s LLC, or your brother in law’s S Corporation? Can they, too, know everything you do on the Internet? Not yet. With that standard install (not counting the new Microsoft IE 7 which hasn’t been evaluated yet), those commercial entities have to find a place to buy that sort of information. And according to law, you usually have to sell it (or give it away, or trade it) before someone else can re-sell it. Have you done that… yet?

Every time you use a credit card you trade away some of that information, and it becomes available to be sold (and therefore becomes available to your neighbor). But you knew that, right? Well, if you install a ToolBar, then every query you make also becomes available for re-sale, as does the relationship between that query and every other query you have made. Google saves your queries forever (at least until 2036 or so). With the Toolbar, you give Google even more info. In fact, via those browser “extensions” you may give up more detail than just your IP address. How about your CPU serial number? Or other codes that identify your computer uniquely in the world (such as the MAC address of your network card, or a combination of the minute configuration details of your computer, which is unqiue in the world).

Nobody likes to be a fool, but it is so exhausting to avoid it these days. Go ahead, fire up that browser with Google Toolbar and search away. Your choice. Be a fool now, and discover later just what a tool you’d been. Freedom of choice, right?  How does it feel? Not too good. It’s a no win, if you ask me. Nobody likes to be a tool, but it hurts more to be told you’ve been one. Or, you could simply  *not* agree to those  licensing agreements that pop up when you use software.  Don’t install the toolbar.  Better yet, ask your local SEO how to use that Toolbar for your own competitive advantage. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

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One Response to “Nobody wants to be a Tool”

  1. SEO(Search Engine Optimization) Tools, Tips and Tricks Says:

    [...] Nobody wants to be a Tool – John talks about his love for toolbars [...]