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m68k's picture
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Joined: 2016 Dec 30
Big Time Rant: Google's war on URLs

When I first read about this, I said to myself: No way this is gonna happen!
But a simple Google (yack!) search revealed lots of articles like this one:

Google Wants To Kill The URL

Its almost like a PR campaign, because they all claim the same thing:
Nobody (emphasis on *nobody*) likes or understands URLs. They are way too complicated, prone to typos and thus they are security nightmares and people just don't like them altogether.
That specific article even likens URLs to path names, which people supposedly can never remember - thus "modern" operating systems will soon get rid of file browsers and folders just as well (welcome to the nightmare of Android's gallery app).

I for one understand every part of a URL. And I absolutely hate Android's gallery app, as it takes me literally half an hour and more to find anything in there (thousands of files displayed in one flat hierachy: no thank you sir).

And Google's proposed replacement for URLs?
Provider based Web Portals. Meaning we all have to go through Google's, Amazon's, Microsoft's etc. web access page, enter our search criteria and be happy with whatever result they'll serve us. No more typing "googlesucks.com", but instead you'll type the words "google sucks" and see how their search engine likes it.
Ah and yes, whosoever parses your search, gets to store your metadata. Where you went, what you looked at and maybe even how long you stayed there. And no chance of you seeing content that Big Brother doesn't approve of. Or ending up on a link from someone who didn't pay the price to be included in tbe search result. They won't even have to block that domain, for w/o URLs you'll be totally relying on the feeds your Portal provider offers up to you.

When the Internet got invented - back in the day - it was supposed to be an NIS: A Nerd Information System. It was never meant to be a Dumb Guy's Shopping Center. I refuse to be reduced to a target for data mining, as soon as I am online (any which way to stay offline for long these days?)
Having my content filtered, parsed and minced by some data sucking corporate juggernaut, who dares to tell me that I am too stupid to understand URLs or pathnames, is akin to declaring me a warden of Google & Co.

As more I know of the modern times in IT, as less I like what I see. Sad

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capt_chuckl3s's picture
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Joined: 2019 Sep 17

I just don't see how anti-URL portals can be implemented, especially if a majority of the internet is made up of URLs.

cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17

Think of how the America Online program used to work, Sherlock 2 in OS 9, the Google Search bar in Android smartphones, that MacLynx web app I tried to use, the very first web browsers where you could hide the URL field but keep the web search field, etc. Or better, modern examples include iTunes Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video and Music, Android and iOS, the Apple, Chrome Web, Google Play and iOS web stores, etc., Roku, Amazon Fire, UIs along those lines, where the entire web would simply get processed invisibly by 'web search centers'.

I believe the way they then might try to make things work is by providing users with URL-less search results, a lot like most present-day app, music and video stores and subscription portals.

AOL had category buttons that took you places that existed all within it's environment, Google would just make the whole web its own AOL, and by doing so, it would eliminate countless 'small-fry' unsecure http websites as part of their own filters and criteria.

All part of what Net Neutrality tried to stop since its beginning: big-bro absolute web control through strong-arming.

m68k's picture
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Joined: 2016 Dec 30

You are right in that prediction and you know what scares me the most about it?
Already today Google manipulates search results based on commercial interests and political demands. In that URL less future I won't have a choice and(!) I won't even know if the website I got directed to is a phony or the real deal.
I'll have to trust Mother Google in all of this. Google used to be nothing more than a "Jonny come lately" to the search engine business (anyone remember AltaVista?). And now they seem destined to take over the Internet, with a handfull of other corporate giants.

WhosIt.There's picture
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Joined: 2014 Aug 23

The URL and DNS backbone won't be going anywhere since the portals will still have to use that to get to the correct websites.

Many people don't bother with URLs anyway and simply use Google to find whatever websites they are trying to get to (instead of remembering / trying "Disney.com", as a simple example, they just go to Google as their browser's default home page and type "Disney", then click through to Disney.com in the results).

Facebook on the other hand is a massive pain in the backside of a website to try and find anything on ... no wonder it's nicknamed "Farcebook" or worse! Similarly with other similar(ish) website like Pinterest. Even YouTube has gone down the toilet with their new design that no longer makes it possible to simply find new postings.

m68k's picture
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Since the development of browser engines is less and less community driven, but instead dominated by demands from development teams employed by corporate IT, I see a near future where normal folks won't even have the option of using URLs, as there won't be any address bar left to type them in.

MikeTomTom's picture
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Joined: 2009 Dec 7

Something else to chew over?

From:
https://www.ghacks.net/2020/02/07/google-chrome-will-block-all-insecure-...

Google Chrome will block all "insecure downloads" in the near future
by Martin Brinkmann on February 07, 2020

Google plans to block all insecure downloads in coming versions of the company's Google Chrome browser. Insecure downloads, according to Google, are downloads that originate from HTTPS websites that are not served via HTTPS. The decision won't affect sites that are still accessed via HTTP.

The change is the next step in Google's plan to block "all insecure subresources on secure pages"

fogWraith's picture
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Joined: 2009 Oct 23

I believe we've passed the first hurdle on this one, I've had to fight this once already in regards to file downloads.
Hopefully the bars stay green Tongue

fogWraith's picture
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Joined: 2009 Oct 23

"People have a really hard time understanding URLs"
The same people who refer to "The Internet" as Facebook or whatever glamorous platform they are grown up with.
The really lazy ones that searches for google to use google to search for whatever it is they are looking for.
Someone that wants to understand will learn... and Google's wish for a walled utopia is hopefully nothing more than a dream.

My reasoning behind every change like this is "more money to the bank", revenue from ads. Simple as that.

It's like when they deemed HTTP as unsafe and "not secure", ComCast as an example, adapted pretty quickly where they could and did inject code for customers browsing ye olde HTTP... they can now also do so for HTTPS traffic.

Secure cookies are also being forced down our throats, so thats also something that needs tackling. Not saying that it's bad.
The googlebot has seen some changes, wether its good or bad - I have no idea, but required changes to the code at Garden to allow the new useragent in (which varies in versions).
New tags for URL's, such as rel="sponsored" and rel="UGC", advertisement links and user generated content.
Deprecating FTP.

Google and Chrome seems to be interested in knowing whats on pages while you surf, as I received mail regarding the search console (we are indexed in the search engine).

"Your site is offering a download that Google Safe Browsing hasn't seen before. The Chrome browser may warn that it is uncommonly downloaded and could be dangerous."
Meaning, Chrome users send data back to Google, Google does not recognize the file format / can't scan the stuff and will in the future tell users that the file they are downloading is most likely VERY SUPER DANGEROUS to download. It took a while to fight them on this point, but it's all good now. (some users did see a message about potentially unsafe downloads, as well)

Failing to comply with Google's changes sends you further down the ladder when it comes to search results.

m68k's picture
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Joined: 2016 Dec 30

I for one want an Internet back, that can work w/o cookies and w/o JavaScript. If I buy or even look at any stuff on Amazon, then that crap keeps following me around for weeks on end. As if I am on a drilling machine buying spree. Shock

And "deprecating FTP" in Chrome means that *all* downloads be passed & parsed through Google's servers from now on. I used to be a big fan of Google - but not anymore!

z970's picture
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Joined: 2016 Aug 26

If you're on Firefox, foxPEP tries to do this as much as it can, by protecting the user from tracking, fingerprinting, and hardware tapping. That, and it will also make your device feel 5 years newer. Wink

Wipe all your cookies, and give it a try. See if it happens again.

http://macintoshgarden.org/apps/poweruoc-tenfourfox

m68k's picture
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Joined: 2016 Dec 30

Unfortunately (or intentionally) the mobile versions of Firefox/Opera a.s.o. have next to no cookie management option. Its either "delete them all" - and suffer my bank's wrath during the next login attempt - or "keep them all" (and get tracked for all eternity).

WhosIt.There's picture
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Joined: 2014 Aug 23

The cookie list is often just a normal text file, so if you can find where it is saved you can edit it into a text editor (make a backup first in case it gets messed up).

m68k's picture
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Google's makes it ever harder to root an Android phone and manufacturers like Samsung even put blocking routines into their boot loaders to prohibit the flashing of alternate firmware.
On such restricted devices its next to impossible to manipulate an app's files on your own. If the app developer didn't offer an option for that, then your own phone/tablet conspires against you.

Heck, I got more intellectual freedom on my 25+ year old Basilisk-II setup, then I do on my brand new Galaxy "Smart"phone. Now what does that tell you about the direction which we are headed?

z970's picture
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Joined: 2016 Aug 26

You may find interest in switching to a Librem 5...

https://puri.sm/products/librem-5/

m68k's picture
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Joined: 2016 Dec 30

Interesting - thx a lot for that link. Ever since my abysmal failure to root the Notes DUO I spend a thousand bucks on, I am seriously considering to dump Samsung altogether. They track and Bixby me to insanity with their firmware crap.

Bolkonskij's picture
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Joined: 2009 Aug 3

Well, that's just typical Google. Because according to them, they ARE the internet. I am not kidding. I've had a chance to watch the public part of a law suit between Google and a e-commerce company. It was amazing, I recommend everyone to attend and watch if you've get the chance. Google came on with three lawyers and they constantly tried to persuade the old grey-haired judge that they indeed are the internet and without them, the lights would go out. Their arrogance was baffling to say the least.

And thinking of it, it is true for a lot of people. Especially those who came late to the party after Google already took off. They never needed URLs. They never understood them. Because when they open their browser they type what they want into the search bar and thanks to many browser's default setting, they are immediately at Google's. For them, a modern computer is just a terminal to access Facebook - Amazon - Google. That's it.

This is a dangerous, very dangerous movement but I fear that the few of us who see through it may not be enough. I imagine in a few years from now we'll have The-Internet™ (owned by Google, Facebook, Amazon, ...) and the Free-Net, which will be used like 90s internet by tech-savvy users. Don't be mistaken, you'll hear every monday from corporate owned media how terrible and dangerous the "Free-Net" is and that it needs to be "controlled" and "taken-down".

Oh wait. That's what we already have now ...

m68k's picture
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Google ought to be broken up, like they did AT&T. Down to a search engine provider, a software company, a GPS map outfit and so on. The way it is now its too much power for one corporation.

z970's picture
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Joined: 2016 Aug 26

In absolute agreement.

Several other companies could stand for the same just as well.

m68k's picture
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Joined: 2016 Dec 30

Amazon be next on that list. I love to shop there myself, but they got way to big for anyone's britches.

kataetheweirdo's picture
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Joined: 2009 Apr 10

You can include Apple on the list too. After all, they make computers, smartphones, music streaming services, TV streaming services, and other things you'd expect from a giant company.

cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17

Hey if we add Apple, then Microsoft needs to be added, too Wink

m68k's picture
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Joined: 2016 Dec 30

Here's a current article right on the point. This is *not* what personal computing was meant to be like, when we started the IT revolution back in the day:

Why Amazon knows
so much

Splitt'em up I say - before they become too big to tackle them.

scott Praed's picture
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Joined: 2010 Oct 30

Net Barrier x5 can traceroute. You have put network address to trace.