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谷歌VS苹果:龟兔赛跑

JP Mangalindan 2011年03月14日

十年前,吉米•威尔士创造了维基百科——世界上最受欢迎的众包型百科全书,十年过去了,威尔士几乎没怎么变。以下就是他对谷歌改变算法、苹果牢牢控制应用以及诺基亚-微软联盟的看法。

    吉米•威尔士讲话时,人们会认真听。这恐怕是因为他是维基百科(Wikipedia)之父,在该网站上,汇集了关于各种事物的众包式简介,从X战警(X-Men)到口臭可谓无所不包。当人们想了解某事物时,他们总会上维基百科。该网站创建10年后,已经有270种语言的版本,被全球4亿多人浏览,每月被编辑1160万次。而且,尽管威尔士如今把主要精力放在了Wikia[一个与维基百科类似,但登载广告而且风格相对比较“极客”的网站,上面会有关于《星际迷航》(即《阿尔法记忆》)等的详细介绍。]上,他仍然在尽己所能的扶持维基百科。比如说,不久前,他就第六次也是最近一次亲自为维基百科年度募资摇旗呐喊,那些带有他头像的横幅广告在59天内就筹得1600万美元(威尔士表示:“它们募得的资金比不带我头像的横幅广告高出了一倍。”)。

    当然,威尔士引人注意还在于他很愿意对任何与技术相关的话题发表看法,即便那些问题在他所熟知的领域之外。比如最近他就表示,应用程序市场对互联网自由造成的威胁,甚至比网络中立性规则造成的更大也更直接。

    日前,《财富》杂志采访了威尔士,探讨谷歌改变算法对维基百科以及Wikia的影响(没有影响);苹果牢牢控制应用程序市场(很不幸);以及他对诺基亚-微软同盟的看法(持怀疑态度)。你肯定有兴趣了解他的看法:

    《财富》杂志:有些因谷歌改变算法而受到影响的网站称,谷歌此次改变带来的坏处比好处多。你对此怎么看?

    吉米•威尔士:事实上,我对此感到很兴奋。我认为是该管管这些荒唐的网站了。当然,现在暂时还很难看出谷歌算法改变的真正影响。大家都在议论谁受到影响了、谁没受影响。我认为还得过几周我们才能真正看清此事。

    不过,有些恶名昭著的网站似乎毫发未损,例如Demand Media旗下的ehow.com。Demand应该受到影响吗?

    要获得高质量的内容,主要有两种方法。一是你向专业记者支付报酬,让他们撰写高质量内容,这种方法由来已久。此举成本颇高,但行之有效。这是一种方法。还有一种方法是,让真正对某个主题有热情、真正关心某个主题的人来编撰关于这个主题的内容。而获得低质量内容的方法则是,你支付很低的报酬,让人写他完全不关心的东西,并且你根据他们是否用到所有恰当的关键词来向他们支付酬劳。在这样的环境下,假如这是你试图产出的东西,那么它们几乎一文不值。

    当然,对于Demand Media,我们都可以质疑其内容的价值。不过我猜他们确实是有撰写原创性内容,因此用算法很难检测出问题。

    我认为,假如当你进行搜索时,获得的内容都来自对该主题毫无兴趣的人,那无论如何对社会都是不大理想的。对任何人而言,这都不是好事。当然,这是一场永无止境的军备竞赛。所以将会有下一轮。

    你刚结束了为维基百科进行的又一轮募资。你有没有想过要改变规则,开始在维基上放广告或是外链到相关站点,以获取收入?

    没有。我们绝不说“绝对不可能”,而且为了维基百科的生存,我们什么都愿意做,但实话告诉你,我们从来没有谈到上面那些事。那些不在我们的考虑范围内。

    人们现在越来越倾向于从社交网络中而非维基百科上获取信息,你对此担心吗?

    我当然不会担心维基百科。人们仍在大量分享维基百科的链接。一切都很好。不过现在人们确实越来越倾向于分享社交网络的链接,而且分享方法也越来越简便。

    登陆Facebook,看到朋友们分享的关于能自主思考的机器恐龙的有趣故事,这确实很棒(这是我刚刚在自己Facebook页面上看到的第一条推送信息)。不过,这个故事虽然很棒,但并不是我要搜索的东西。你仍然需要搜索。你仍然想弄清楚一些事情,所以你会去搜索它们。

    所以你认为它们可以共存?

    正是如此,我认为它们互为补充。前两天,我看到这样一个问题:如果Facebook想建立搜索引擎,那么它会如何处理其用户分享的海量数据?这真是个有趣的问题。人们应当关注此事,因为人们在社交网站分享信息的行为和其用搜索引擎搜索信息的行为大不相同。所以我不认为有谁能根据一则有趣的机器恐龙故事打造出一款聪明的搜索引擎。

    你还在大力抨击应用程序商店,并指出它们对互联网自由造成了巨大威胁。苹果最新发布了针对应用程序内部订阅的规则,你的看法有改变吗?

    历史又在重演,苹果似乎又在犯经典的苹果式错误。它的控制欲望太强大了,因此它最后会被市场所抛弃,消费者也会转投Android平台。

    我最大的忧虑在于,将来我们的设备是否会完全封闭,我们所安装的每一种软件都必须经过某一家厂商批准?这在很多方面都会造成问题。从商业角度来看,应用程序模式的好处之一是为年轻程序员提供大好机会。只要4个聪明的年轻程序员,你就能成立一支团队,然后,你就能赚到大量的“真金白银”。这真是太棒了。

    但是……

    但与此同时,你就像在和魔鬼做交易。当然,我并不是想说苹果就是魔鬼。我对苹果非常仰慕。但是你将自己锁进了一个封闭的系统,在这个系统里,“老大哥”比你更强大。这个问题就比较严重了。

    我要指出的是,很多关于网络中立性的争论很大程度上都是“纸上谈兵”。人们不过是担心将来有一天,公司会做出他们现在没有做的事情。而应用程序商店是目前重大的市场现象,它确实十分重要。

    所以苹果做得错,谷歌做得对?

    到目前为止,必须承认,从战略角度而言,苹果作为该市场的开拓者,领先其它对手好几年。他们竭尽所能,他们做得棒极了。然而,我认为随着越来越多的产品进入市场,苹果要非常小心,以免被人超过。这同样像是微软与苹果的经典故事,当时苹果的平台较为封闭,而微软的平台更为开放。最后的情况是,微软依靠远比苹果开放的平台将苹果打败。

    苹果如果不能开放自己的平台,那么它可能面临这样的情况,人们会说,我买了iPad,不过我孩子不能用它玩Flash游戏。苹果和Flash在较劲?我可不在乎。我找到了别的设备能让我运行Flash。就这么简单。

    听起来你认为苹果很自大。

    我认为苹果确实很自大,不过他们有资格如此。iPad是一款超凡脱俗的产品。它进入市场已经整整一年了,也许时间还更长点,不过现在仍没有任何对手可以与之抗衡。这点很难做到,要知道,市场竞争可是异常惨烈。iPad能做到这点简直是不可思议。苹果有资格为此小小骄傲一把。

    不过,这就像龟兔赛跑的故事。虽然你具有先发优势,不过这并不意味着你能笑到最后。你必须非常小心,而且要非常认真地考虑如何成为某个生态系统的一部分。

    那么谷歌就是那只乌龟?

    将谷歌看做行动缓慢但终将获胜的乌龟很有意思。谷歌确实坚忍不拔,所以这很有意思。

    这些天来,你还在关注哪些事情?

    我最近非常关注的另一件事是诺基亚与微软的合作。它们的股价一天之内下跌了8%,我对此并不感到惊讶。两者的合作看起来真是个糟糕的主意。另一方面,我一直很钦佩的一位科技观察家——罗伯特•斯科博发表了一些我无法认同的观点:你们中哪位真正用过Windows Phone 7手机(设备)?它真的很棒,诺基亚选择与微软合作绝对是明智之举。

    但你似乎不这么看。

    我仍然持怀疑态度。我很尊重别人对此事的不同看法,我认为此次合作将成为移动领域很有意思的一件事。不过5年之后,诺基亚究竟会怎么样呢?诺基亚首席执行官发表的“燃烧的平台”( "Burning Platform")备忘录,确实十分精彩、令人震撼。看过的人都说:“如果我们不采取行动,我们会被甩在后面。”这听起来真的很棒。不过我还是觉得诺基亚应该选择Android生态系统,这是它更好的归宿,它可以继续发挥特长,制造出类拔萃的硬件。但诺基亚怎么做的?它投入了微软的怀抱。

    老兄,我没想到你们会这么干,不过,还是祝你们能成功吧。

    译者:项航

    When Jimmy Wales speaks, people listen. That's probably because he's the guy behind Wikipedia, the go-to resource for quick crowd-sourced summaries on everything from X-Men to halitosis. Ten years later, it's available in over 270 languages, viewed by 400 million-plus people around the world, and edited 11.6 million times a month. And though Wales focuses his energies these days on Wikia, the ad-supported, slightly geekier version of Wikipedia with truly elaborate Wikis on say, Star Trek (ie. "Memory Alpha") he still helps out where ever he can. Case in point: his sixth and latest annual personal appeal for Wikipedia funds, with banners carrying his mug ("Those outperformed banners without my picture about 2 to 1," he says) that brought in $16 million in 59 days.

    Of course, Wales is also notable because he's pretty much willing to weigh in on anything tech, even if it seems outside his purview. Most recently, he argued the app market poses a bigger, more immediate threat to Internet freedom than net neutrality regulation.

    Fortune caught up with him last week to talk about how the Google algorithm change is affecting Wikipedia and Wikia (it's not), Apple's (AAPL) stranglehold of the apps market (unfortunate), and his outlook on the Nokia (NOK) - Microsoft (MSFT) relationship (dubious). You'll want to read what he has to say:

    Fortune: Some web sites affected by Google's tweaked algorithm are saying the change is doing more harm than good. Where do you stand?

    Jimmy Wales:I'm actually excited about it. I think it's about time that we have a little bit [of] these really ridiculous sites getting knocked down some. Of course it's too early to tell what is the real impact. There's been a lot of noise about who's been impacted and who hasn't. I think it'll be another few weeks before we really have a clear view on that.

    Still, it seems like some of the most the egregious offenders, like Demand Media's ehow.com, remain unaffected. Should Demand be included?

    There's basically two ways to get good, quality content. One is you pay professional journalists to write good quality content and that is the time-honored manner. It's quite expensive, but it works. That's one way. The other is to get people really passionate about a subject who really care about it, to write about it. And to do that, the way you get low quality content is you pay people very small amounts of money to write about stuff they don't care about at all. And you reward them based on whether or not they've used all the right keywords. In that environment, if that's what you're trying to produce, you produce things of very little quality.

    With Demand Media of course, we can all question what value they're bringing. But I guess it is true that they do write original content, which for an algorithm to detect, is trickier.

    I don't think it's optimal for society in any way that when you do a search, you just get content from people who don't care. That's not good for anybody. Of course, it's an endless arms race. So there will be another round.

    You just wrapped up another round of fundraising for Wikipedia. Do you ever think about changing the rules up and allowing for ads or linking out to relevant sites for revenues?

    No. We never absolutely just say 'never', and we'll do anything for Wikipedia to survive, but in our most private discussions, I will 'leak' to you that we never even talk about it. It's not on the radar for us.

    Are you concerned about people turning more to social networks for information than your sites?

    Certainly not for Wikipedia. People do share Wikipedia links a lot. It's all kinds of fine. But there definitely is a shift to a lot more social sharing of links and it just gets easier.

    There's something wonderful about going on Facebook and seeing that your friends share this funny story about a robotic dinosaur that has an attitude. (I just saw the first thing in my Facebook feed.) It's great, but it's not something I would have searched for. You still need search. There are still things you're trying to figure out, and you're going to search for it.

    So you see them working hand-in-hand?

    Yeah, I think it's complimentary. The one thing I did read the other day was what Facebook would do with all the data they're sharing in terms of building a search engine. I think it's a very interesting question. People should keep an eye out for that because the nature of what people share socially is very different from what people search for in a search engine, so I'm not sure you can build a cute search engine out of a cute story about robotic dinosaurs.

    You also just spoke out against app stores and how they pose a big threat to Internet freedom. Have Apple's new in-app subscription rules changed your view on that?

    It's quite likely that Apple is going to commit the classic Apple mistake of trying to be too controlling and therefore the market gets away from them and people start to move towards Android.

    My big concern is, will we have devices that are completely locked down, and the only software you'll install on them is software approved by a single vendor? That's an issue in a lot of ways. From a business perspective, one of benefits of the app model is providing a really exciting time again for young programmers. You get together a team of four smart young programmers and you can actually make a lot of money. It's interesting and exciting.

    But…

    But at the same time, it's like making a deal with the devil. And I don't mean to be calling Apple the devil. I'm a great admirer of Apple. But you're locking yourself into a system where Big Brother is going to be more powerful than you. Which is a pretty big deal.

    What I was contrasting that with is that a lot of the brouhaha with net neutrality is fairly theoretical. People are afraid of companies doing things someday that they aren't doing now. But this is a huge market phenomenon now and it's really quite important.

    So Apple's getting it wrong and Google is getting it right?

    So far. To Apple's credit, from a strategy point of view, as the first player in that market with a very dominant couple of years head start, they did what they could with that, and that's great for them. At the same time, I think Apple needs to be very careful that they don't get sidelined as more and more devices [arrive]. And again, it's the classic old story of Microsoft and Apple, where Microsoft with a more open platform. But it is true. Microsoft was far more open than Apple was and won because of that.

    Apple runs the risk that if they don't embrace a bit more openness in their platform, people will actually say, I've got this iPad, and my kid can't play this Flash game. So Apple's in a fight with Flash? I don't care. And yet this other device lets me run Flash. Simple as that.

    Sounds like you think Apple is arrogant.

    Well, I think Apple is arrogant, and I think they earned it. The iPad is an absolutely brilliant product. They brought it to market a full year, maybe more than a year, before anyone else had anything remotely competitive. That's hard to do. This is an incredibly competitive market. To do that with the iPad is just really insane. They may deserve to be a little cocky about that.

    At the same time, it's the tortoise and the hare. Just because you're the first out of the box, doesn't mean you'll win in the long run. They have to be very careful and very thoughtful about how they can be a part of any ecosystem.

    And Google is the tortoise then?

    It's funny to think of them as a slow-plotting turtoise that will win. Google is pretty relentless, so that's very interesting.

    What else has sort of has you riled up these days?

    The other thing I'm fascinated by is the whole Nokia-Microsoft tie-up. ... I'm not surprised their stock was down by 8% in one day. That sounded like a really bad idea. On the other hand, Robert Scoble, who I do respect very much, just made the point that I can't really answer: Have any of you actually used a Windows Phone 7 mobile [device]? Because it's really awesome and this is a really brilliant move.

    But you don't seem to think so.

    I'm still very skeptical. I do respect that there's an alternative view out there, and I think it's going to be one of the more interesting things in the mobile space. But where will Nokia be five years from now? … This shake things up ["Burning Platform"] memo from the CEO was brilliant, with people saying "OK, we're about to be left behind if we don't do something." That sounded really good. I would have suggested the Android ecosystem would have been a better place for them to make really brilliant hardware, which they do. But then what do they do? They joined up with Microsoft.

    Not really what I thought you'd say guys, but hey, hope that works out for you.

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