Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Shaved Bieber - So much promise, alas, it fails.

I first read about the Free Art & Technology's Firefox Add-On "Shaved Bieber" at Calvin's Canadian Cave of Coolness. As a concept I love it, but as an application, it is a bit flawed. Here is what it does:

We’ve developed a series of innovative tools to help cover the lower regions of web pages from unwanted Justin Bieber content. Shave away those Bieber mentions on web sites with our bookmarklet, Firefox Add-on, or JavaScript files.

In theory, this is great. A simple program that runs on spite alone. It doesn't stop you from going to Bieber heavy sites, but it blacks his name out as though he were part of some public release version of a government memo. In practice, however, it does something else. Here is how this blog looks without the "Shaved Bieber" Add-On:

And here is how it looks with the Add-On:


I am no expert, but it appears that the Add-On strips away style settings on many pages in order to enforce it's own style, i.e. any Bieber mention. They did this in the simplest possible way. Make text black, backgrounds white, and links the standard blue. It does not completely strip styles from everything. Colored text, like that in gold above, will keep their color, and the background masking will match. Link are blue. Simple formatting is unaffected, as in the Wikipedia Bieber entry:


Oh, yeah. It can block some images too. Nice.

As a piece of new media subversiveness I love the idea, though it only furthers Bieber's web importance that someone would go to these lengths to block his name and picture, but as "web performance art" (so to speak) it is interesting. Hopefully they will get some better developers on-board to fix some of the problems with regard to style.

If you want to get it, you must go here. This has not passed Mozilla muster, apparently, so install at your own risk. I doubt it is something dangerous. If some of the basic problems could be corrected I am sure Firefox would make it available. It is a laugh only at this point, and not something you'd want to run all the time.

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