The Network Effect
Ars Technica revealed today that Comcast is injecting self-promotional advertising into web pages delivered via it’s Wi-Fi hotspots:
A Comcast spokesman told Ars the program began months ago. One facet of it is designed to alert consumers that they are connected to Comcast's Xfinity service. Other ads remind Web surfers to download Xfinity apps, Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas told Ars in telephone interviews.
The fact that middlemen can manipulate server responses is one reason Google is pushing for all sites to be served under HTTPS. With traffic running to and from your server in an encrypted fashion, man-in-the-middle attacks—which, if we’re honest, is what this amounts to—become much more difficult.
Comcast’s move only serves to remind us—yet again—that we don’t control how our sites are delivered or what our users see. Or rather we do, but only up to a point. So rather than focus on some ideal experience we expect everyone to have, we must focus on building great experiences that work in a variety of contexts and situations.
We need to develop the 1964 Chrysler Imperial of websites: Sites that soldier on even when they are getting pummeled from all sides. After all, browsers, plug-ins, users, networks, and, yes, even the very routers that deliver our connections all have a say in how (and what) content gets to our users.
I’ll leave you with this scary quote from the Ars piece: