Outraged? A brisk jog is just the ticket

Some deep thinking about the deep-linking controversy
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The Independent Online

IF JOGGING on Silicon Valley's Sand Hill Road is inspirational,then I'm one inspired fella. My wife, Linda, Cassie the dog and Ijog here six mornings a week, alternating among three routes to keep itinteresting. Any long-time jogger knows about runner's reverie.This is a trance-like state that overtakes the head as the feet, onautopilot, follow a well-worn trail.

IF JOGGING on Silicon Valley's Sand Hill Road is inspirational,then I'm one inspired fella. My wife, Linda, Cassie the dog and Ijog here six mornings a week, alternating among three routes to keep itinteresting. Any long-time jogger knows about runner's reverie.This is a trance-like state that overtakes the head as the feet, onautopilot, follow a well-worn trail.

As we cross Sand Hill and turnon to a bikepath heading into the grounds of Stanford University, thesunrise-lit horizon blazes into view. Grey sky with dramatic pink andorange splashes catch my attention like the cover of Wired magazine before mythoughts drift to a scene the day before in an office in one of SiliconValley's palatial HQ buildings.

Not every Silicon Valley company is araw startup. Why, some are 10 and 15 years old. Some of thesecompanies have, or had at some point in their trajectories, so much moneythat they decided to carve large and deluxe digs right into the heart of some ofthe most expensive real estate in the world.

Apple Computer keeps itscampus in the heart of Cupertino. Much of the 10 or so acres (in a countywhere quarter-acre lots can bring a million dollars) is given over to agrassy quadrangle and outdoor amphitheatre, complete with cafe. The wholeopen space is ringed with buildings featuring lots of corner offices, glasswalls, and a four-story atrium replete with live trees and a coffeebar. Even that pales in comparison to some other hi-tech palaces, butback to the office conversation. John Santoro, an Apple executive, isrecounting that his car needed unexpected repairs, and how he'd told themechanic to go ahead without even thinking about the cost.

John has been ateacher and a wire service photographer in past lives. Neither metier isfamous for its abundant remuneration. "Remember the panic when themechanic would say you needed tires?" he asked. "I don't eventhink about those things anymore."

Once, in my impecuniousyouth, I'd been given a ticket by the Pasadena Police Department forhaving a bald tire on my '54 Chevy. Sudden financial needs qualified as agenuine emergency. The tidal wave of prosperity that's crashed on toSilicon Valley's shores has given "fiscal emergency" a newmeaning.

For many here, a fiscal angst means deciding whether to sellstock options now, or waiting to see if the price will go up. Peoplesit, eyes fixed on their online broker's Web page stock ticker,anxious finger poised above mouse. God knows how much productive time is lostto this exercise hereabouts.

But now we're rounding Stanford'sHoover Tower, the edifice named for the US President who reigned over the great Wall Street crash of 1929. Well, better him than for that infamous cross-dressing former head of the FBI. Which, of course, causes thejogger's brain to jump to the "deep linking" controversy.

A UScompany, Ticketmaster, has been suing other companies, includingMicrosoft, for linking to pages in its Website. Normally, you'dexpect a merchant to be delighted with traffic being sent their way. ButTicketmaster wants links only to its home page. They want people to have tofumble through their site, the better to get page view numbers up so they cancommand higher rates for advertising. This, of course, makes melivid.

The Web is a public place. If you put something there,lacking strong encryption, it's visible to anyone with a browser.Companies such as Ticketmaster are trying to use legions of lawyers to bully Webusers into giving up a public place. Hey, Ticketmaster: if youdon't want people linking to pages, don't put 'em up. The Webis based on something called hypertext, the whole point of which is to makeit easy to jump to relevant pages. Every Web page lives on a single URL,and is therefore equal in the eyes of hyperlinks. The notion of"deep" pages is a fabrication of lawyers looking for billablehours.

It's as if you went to browse in a public library and somerent-a-cop jumped out and whacked your hand with a ruler if you daredopen a certain book to any but the first page.

The deep-linking outragehas carried me almost back to my door. Time to sit down and write thiscolumn.

cg@gulker.com

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