Meet the Guy Who Blocks The Things We Hate On The Internet (INTERVIEW)

Meet the Guy Who Blocks The Things We Hate On The Internet (INTERVIEW)
By Amanda Walgrove
  • Don’t want to read about the Olympics, Justin Bieber, or Kim Kardashian? There’s a browser for that. And here’s the man who makes it happen.

    Greg Leuch, a Virtual Fellow at the Free Art and Technology Lab,¬†takes things we want to shield ourselves from online and makes them go away. This summer, he’s getting topical with Olwimpics: The Olympics Blocker, which is supported by Chrome, Firefox, and Safari to pick out key Olympics-related words and block the associated content.

    We caught up with Leuch to learn more about the success of the Olympics Blocker, how it ties in with the groans over NBC’s delayed stateside coverage, and other things people hate online.

    How does the Olwimpics browser work exactly?

    The Olwimpics browser extension works by scanning the text and metadata on the page, and altering the page structure to block out Olympic-related words and images with Olympic-colored censor bars. It matches against a list of Olympic keywords, such as event names, distances, medals. I have also received kind submissions from people with French, Spanish, and Czech keywords.

    Why did you want to create something to block Olympics news online?

    Actually, I didn’t. I felt trying to hide such content would be a tad tasteless. Yet, after some pleading tweets from friends, I built Olwimpics as a speed project, using code from previous extensions I’ve written to block out Justin Bieber (Shaved Bieber) & the Kardashians (Dash-Out). Rather than being tasteless, it has been received welcomingly by many.

    Did you know that this would turn out to be so relevant, considering how angry people are about NBC’s delayed coverage?

    I’ve heard of some of the flubs by NBC, but I was not aware how poor their coverage has been until the day after I released the extension. (I’m in China, so I’ve only heard of a few of the NBC gaffes.)

    What are the numbers like regarding how many people have downloaded and used the Blocker so far?

    Currently, it has received nearly 3,000 downloads, and still continues to be downloaded steadily.

    Have you created these kinds of projects for other large events as well?

    I have created numerous other content blockers, most notably ones to block Justin Bieber and the Kardashians. I’ve also created variants of these content blocker extensions for commercial companies, including Heineken and MTV.