I just posted a few quick instructions for removing the “Smart Location Bar” that was introduced in Firefox 3. Why? Because it annoyed me. But as I was typing up the post, it occurred to me that this could have some unintentional benefits for library patrons.
Libraries are sometimes in the position of having to protect patrons from themselves. Take privacy for example. Truthfully, many patrons probably don’t care who knows what they read. However, there are some that might care very much. Likewise, there are some patrons who probably don’t care who knows what they read or view on the Internet.
In the interest of protecting patrons’, libraries usually take a number of steps to safeguard their privacy. For example, all of the web browsers on our public computers, are set to keep histories for zero days. Additionally, our public computer security software erases browsing histories (among other things) at a specified time each day.
The new Smart Location Bar is big and obvious. Suppose a patron is trying to research a medical condition. Imagine how that patron might feel if each web address visited popped up in this big, gaudy bar for all the world to see! If the patron does not clear the web browser after a research session, the information will still be there if anyone cared to view the browser history. But at least it’s not in-your-face like the Smart Location Bar.