Wired's Webmonkey column today features a short article on some new behavior in the latest Google Chrome beta: prefetching and prerendering web content. Basically, if Chrome autcompletes the URL you're typing, it'll start loading web content for that URL, even though you may end up typing something unexpected and different.
In the best case, of course, this could save you a little time - especially if you type as slowly as I do - because some portion of the web page will already have loaded by the time you finish typing. In the worst case, the URL you type isn't what Chrome anticipated so it simply discards the prefetched content. No harm done, right?
Except that the web content had to be served by a web server somewhere on the Internet and transmitted across said Internet to your web browser.
In the world of DNS, we've been experiencing a similar phenomenon for some time: Chrome sends DNS queries for strings that might be domain names as you enter a URL. So if I'm typing "www.company.com," Chrome would see "www.co" after the first six characters and think, "That could be a Colombian domain name!" (because Colombia runs .co). Consequently, it tries looking up www.co. Now there's no www.co as yet (though if I ran .co, I might create one and throw some advertising up just to catch the eyeballs of some Chrome beta users), so Chrome then sees the "www.com" and thinks, "That could be a com domain name!" and does the same thing. There a nice article in the ISC Diary about this behavior.
In fact, before looking up www.company.com, Chrome would first look up
And if the client is running dual-stack, it'll send at least two queries per domain name. Google ought to send the Colombian NIC a check.
I'm all for improving the user experience when using the Internet, and actually I don't think all mechanisms like this are inherently evil, but someone ought to be thinking about the price we pay on the infrastructure side of the equation when features like this are introduced.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have a business proposition to make to a Colombian friend.