February 21, 2005
web graffiti and greasemonkey
I had recently been thinking about the need for "web graffiti" - ways to either enhance or deface (depending on your perspective) various web sites... whether changing visual design elements, logos, appropriately replacing targeted pieces of text, redirecting links, or maybe just removing all the extraneous clutter sites throw at you. Maybe something along the lines of letting Adbusters loose on the web. The thought was tending in the direction of a browser plug-in that for whatever site you were visiting could retrieve the currently available "defacements" and allow you to apply them to the site at hand, dynamically changing the stylesheet, rewriting page elements, and what have you.
Turns out this is already much much further along than my myopic grad-student awareness had realized. Ryan has a fascinating post about Greasemonkey, a firefox plug-in for injecting custom scripts into any webpage, enabling you to change their design or functionality. Examples include changing any URL-like text into a link, removing Google AdWords, and clearing out other advertising and design clutter. Ryan also offers some spot-on points about the ramifications this could have for businesses and the ensuing arms-race.
So I still want the sidebar that will allow me to discover new scripts and "defacements" in situ as I browse around. Coupled, of course, with some mechanism to avoid the malicious scripts that will wreak unwanted havoc upon me. Add to that a visual interface for interacting with and editing a web page's structure--e.g., HTML/DOM elements, stylesheet definitions, etc--and exporting edits to a script... and then supporting derivative works, thereby enabling "defacement dialogues"... the list goes on... there's much fun to be had on the re-appropriated web.Posted by jheer at February 21, 2005 06:16 PM
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