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Facebook有望成为互联网的未来

Jessi Hempel 2011年09月26日

短短几年前,Facebook的f8还默默无闻,只是合法黑客这个小圈子里的聚会,如今却已经成为互联网当仁不让的朝圣地,有志参与构建互联网未来基础设施的人现在蜂拥而至。

    马克•扎克伯格于上周四在Facebook年度开发者大会f8上登台亮相,引起数千名狂热信徒的欢呼和尖叫。他们绝大多数都是笔记本不离手的小伙子(当然也有少数姑娘);同时,收看视频直播的观众数则超过10万人。短短几年前,f8还默默无闻,只是部分合法黑客圈子里的小聚会,不过它如今已经成为互联网的朝圣地,吸引着一切有志参与构建互联网未来基础设施的人。

    这几年发生了什么变化?上届f8于一年半前召开,当时,“喜欢”(like)按钮首次亮相。如今,Facebook用户数猛增了40%,达到7.5亿人。市场调研机构eMarketer预计Facebook的收益将增长1倍,达到42.7亿美元。扎克伯格俨然已经成为了这个时代的罗伯特•摩斯(美国著名建筑师——译注)。他构建的不仅仅是互联网的操作系统,互联网的组织方式,更是互联网本身。

    不出所料,扎克伯格在会上揭晓了一系列令人眼花缭乱的功能,包括:全新改版的个人档案,它现在被称为时间线(Timeline);将应用程序嵌入Facebook用户体验的全新途径;以及加强版的“社交图景”(social graph)功能,也就是网络版的个人关系图,用户可以借此绘出自己与其他人关系的示意图。至于最重要的,恐怕要数社交图景能让Spotify等音乐服务以及Netflix这类流媒体网站更加紧密地将其业务嵌入到Facebook中。

    扎克伯格称:“想像一下我们表达个人生活的方式。如果最初的Facebook只是(一段对话)的开头5分钟,那么我今天所展的则是这段对话余下的部分,也就是长达几个小时的深入、精彩的交流;而下一步的流媒体功能(stream)则可以将呈现的对话时长延长到15小时。”实际上,Facebook有望成为我们的数字生活剪贴板,而有朝一日,它能最终成为我们的生活博物馆。

    扎克伯格面对的是一大帮群情激昂的开发者,后者将f8念作“fate”(意为“命运”),这可不是在开玩笑。如果扎克伯格的发言让人觉得信心满满,甚至过于张狂,以至于近乎狂妄,我们不妨看看他一贯的两步走战略:第一步,Facebook发布重大改版和新功能。随后,用户大呼Facebook违规,通常是抱怨隐私受到侵犯。Facebook最终撤销计划、做出调整,然后我们也就消停了。但无论如何,Facebook还是会不动声色地调整、推出新功能。

    早在上周初,就有一些人对新闻订阅服务(newsfeed)的改版表示不满,不过他们应该铭记2006年的教训。当时,初出茅庐的首席执行官扎克伯格首次推出了新闻订阅服务。Facebook上一个名叫“反Facebook新闻订阅学生同盟”的群组招揽了多达74万名会员;此外,还有一家网站呼吁用户抵制Facebook,停用该社交网络一天。当时,扎克伯格被迫发出了平生第一封道歉信并承诺调整隐私策略。但他并未放弃这项核心业务,它最终成为社交网络的基石。现在,恐怕这项服务已经是行业标准了。至少到目前为止,扎克伯格强迫我们使用分享工具的意图已经奏效。

    Mark Zuckerberg took the stage today at f8, Facebook's sort-of-annual developers' conference, to the screaming affirmation of thousands of laptop-toting fanboys (and also a few women) and a live-streaming audience that surpassed 100,000. What began a few years back as a fringe festival for legit hackers has become ground zero for anyone interested in helping build the infrastructure of tomorrow's Internet.

    What's changed? A year and a half after the last f8, where the "like" button debuted, Facebook has increased its users 40% to 750 million and eMarketer estimates it will double revenues to an estimated $4.27 billion. Zuckerberg has become the Robert Moses of his generation, building out not just an operating system for the web or a way to organize it -- but the web itself.

    As expected, Zuckerberg unleashed a dizzying number of announcements: He introduced a redesigned profile called Timeline; a new way to bring applications into the Facebook experience; and, an evolved version of the "social graph" -- the web of personal relationships that users map out by connecting to each other. Perhaps most significant, the social graph lets businesses like music service Spotify or streaming site Netflix (NFLX) more deeply integrate their services into Facebook.

    "Imagine expressing the story of your life," Zuckerberg explained. "If the original Facebook was the first five minutes [of a conversation] and the stream was the next 15, what I want to show you today is the rest--the next few hours of a deep engaging conversation." Expect Facebook, in effect, to become our living digital scrapbook and even, eventually, perhaps our fossil.

    Zuckerberg spoke to an overflowing mass of entranced developers who aren't kidding when they pronounce "f8" as "fate." If his announcements seemed confident and disruptive enough to border on arrogance, consider that we've seen this two-steps-forward routine before: First, Facebook releases numerous significant redesigns and new features. Then, users cry foul, often voicing concerns over privacy. The company, finally, pulls back on its plan and makes tweaks while we all settle down and adjust, building out the new features quietly anyhow.

    Anyone complaining about the redesign of the newsfeed earlier this week would do well to remember 2006 when a more youthful CEO rolled it out in the first place. A Facebook group called "Students Against Facebook Newsfeed" attracted 740,000 members and a website called for a daylong boycott of the site, causing Zuckerberg to issue his first letter of apology and alter privacy settings. But he didn't back down on the core feature and it became the backbone for the social web. Now, the newsfeed might as well be an institution. And so far, Zuckerberg's mad impulse to force feed us sharing tools has worked.

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