Bridges News — cloud

Cloud Privacy: How is your extension paying for its development?

Cloud Privacy: How is your extension paying for its development?

You don’t get something for nothing….

There’s no such thing as a free lunch…

everybody’s got to eat…

Home truths, that could be extended (pun intended) to extensions. Developers of extensions are no different than the rest of us — they don’t generally work for free.

The ones that do (and again we’ve been down this road before with iPad apps), well, don’t expect a lot of longevity or support — you get what you pay for.

A lot of the extensions that you don’t pay for aren’t actually free, they just use a different currency – information. You’re trading the information that comes out of your web browser – where you go, what you read, how long you’re there, what sites you return to, what adds you click on, what you’re emailing/messaging about, what links your sharing etc. etc. etc. — for the functionality of the app.
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Cloud Privacy: Can you turn your Extensions Off?

Cloud Privacy: Can you turn your Extensions Off?

For most extensions, it is a safe bet that they are always working. Even though you are not actually accessing their functionality, they are still doing their work.

For an extension to deliver that almost instant responsiveness that makes you forget the work is being done on a server, thousands of kilometres away, most extensions work not when you click on a specific function like “read-out-loud” or “reformat the page” but as soon as you load up the web page.

If the extension is clicked it feeds it back to you with the added functionality. If it’s not clicked, it doesn’t.

But the vacuuming-up of the information you're viewing in your browser and sending it to an external server, has probably happened regardless.
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Extensions — What work is done in the Cloud vs. the local computer

Extensions — What work is done in the Cloud vs. the local computer

Most extensions take data from your computer and send it to their server in the Cloud to do the work. From a developer’s standpoint, that’s the easiest and cheapest way to create and run an extension.

Extensions that look at the text or document you’re looking at — a text-to-speech reader, adblocker, a summarizer etc. — indiscriminately vacuum-up all the information that a user is reading and let the tools on their servers do the processing e.g. turn text into speech or apply algorithms that pull out the important ideas, shutdown ads etc. They then send that processed information back down to the local computer.

Think about what that means. All of what you are browsing, all the pages of all the sites you visit, are sent to a server somewhere and stored.
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