I'm not going to waste too many words on this. First and foremost because it's almost weekend and you have better things to do, right?
I'm against the moaning and groaning regarding Google's 404 "hijacking". And if yesterday you weren't bashing it up because Firefox or Internet Explorer "hijack" 404 pages, then neither should you.
Internet Explorer, Firefox -- they don't show 404 error pages under 512 bytes. You know what they do instead? They replace them ("hijack" them) with their own error pages. Erm... like what Google's new toolbar plans to do.
But It's Not About That
This is the new frontier we're talking about.
Google is taking the whole freaking web and mashing that up. Now it's your turn again...
They take 20 years of public postings on Usenet, call it Google Groups and only the search results will you see this acknowledged. The word Usenet appears nowhere on the Google Groups home page.
They take 4000+ news sources, scan 'm, scrape 'm and then reassemble or mash them up into Google News. And you thought you had a mashup when you combined 3 rss feeds into one new blog!
Taking videos from around the web they create a video portal we all want to visit.
They take photos of our world, our buildings, our streets -- photos of us -- repackage it and call it Google Street View. How brilliant is that?!
Staying well within hyperlink law they then took the mashup platform away from the pure web page/server level and moved it to the toolbar.
And now they add custom error pages for those sites that don't have a good error page.
The Future is Google
I don't know where Google will be in 20 years from now or even if it will be. But I know that by then they will have led the way into a future where a combination of electronic mass application of fair use copyright laws and freedom of speech will not only have made Web 2.0-style mashup content the default -- it will have turned the web browser into a mashup engine.
The problem is not Google. Thank God it's "just" Google! What if we had the Contextual Amazon Bar?!
No, the "problem" is that we're doing new things in a new way and we're not sure we're liking it. It's cool to see all this quasi-intelligent automated stuff on the science fiction screen but once it hits real life.... ai, that's different. The helpful info-bot grabs snippets of your content and shows it without the ads. The social graph annotator has circles of friends leaving messages on top of your page that you can't influence.
...and 12 other things I can't even begin to think about....
So, Google isn't getting another pass -- Google is getting our vote.