数字服务并非免费 免费信息的高昂代价
本文摘要:In the past few weeks something we always knew to be true, but which we preferred to overlook for convenience’s sake, is proving harder to ignore. 过去几周,我们仍然都告诉是怎么回事、但为了省事而不去求证的某些事情,显得更加无以忽略了。


In the past few weeks something we always knew to be true, but which we preferred to overlook for convenience’s sake, is proving harder to ignore. 过去几周,我们仍然都告诉是怎么回事、但为了省事而不去求证的某些事情,显得更加无以忽略了。The fact is that digital services are not free, they never were and that any entity from Silicon Valley that ever claimed they could be did so only because it suited their agenda or that of someone else.事实是,数字服务并非免费,它们未曾免费过,硅谷任何声称需要获取免费数字服务的公司之所以那么说道,只是因为这话合乎它们或其他什么人的利益。

Think of all the free digital services you use every day without paying a penny: email, travel apps, social media, YouTube, search, Wikipedia. 看看我们每天不花上一分钱就可以用于的所有免费数字服务:电子邮件、旅行应用于、社交媒体,YouTube、搜寻、维基百科(Wikipedia)。If you had to pay for all of them, how many would you use?如果要为所有这些服务收费,你还不会用于多少?This revelation is not the result of a crash in the share prices of companies providing free internet services. 我们释怀到这一点并非获取免费互联网服务的公司股价下跌的结果。Nor is it because a plethora of app companies has run out of financing options for their lossmaking operations. 也不是因为众多app开发商的亏损业务的融资自由选择越来越少。It has hit us because the fake news scandal has led us to question whether the news and information we have been consuming online for nothing was ever being generated in our interests.我们之所以释怀过来,是因为假新闻丑闻使我们开始猜测,我们在网上免费消费的新闻和信息,否以合乎我们利益的方式分解?However, the outrage that has followed this realisation — with free services such as Google and Facebook being urged to censor and filter the news — misdiagnoses the situation. 然而,这一了解带给的气愤——拒绝谷歌(Google)、Facebook等免费服务提供商审查并过滤器新闻——是对现实的错误诊断。

The right diagnosis is this: over the past 20 years we have normalised a digital economy that funds itself either by appealing to the sort of investors who will tolerate long-term cash burn if the ultimate pay-off is monopoly control or by creating business models that profit from morally ambiguous situations.准确的临床是:过去20年,我们早已让这样一种数字经济正常化,这种经济通过两种方式筹措资金:一是更有那些不愿为最后取得独占控制权而承受长年烧钱的投资者,二是创立需要利润于道德上模糊不清的情况的业务模式。Where traditional media institutions feared to tread with advertising-funded models because of a belief in editorial responsibility, balance and context, social media platforms — free from any industry codes of conduct — moved right in. 传统媒体机构基于对编采责任、均衡与大背景的考虑到,不肯随意引进广告赞助商模式,这刚好让受任何行业行为准则约束的社交媒体平台趁虚而入。The lines between editorial, advertising, entertainment and political propaganda became entirely blurred in the quest for clicks.为了执着点击率,编辑、广告、娱乐以及政治宣传之间的界线显得几乎模糊不清了。

The growing cyber-industrial complex has normalised this further, with cross-subsidisation models that gouge wealthier customer segments for the benefit of non-paying ones referred to euphemistically as ecosystems. 日益壮大的网络工业复合体使这种状况更进一步常态化,它们做出有交叉补贴模式——向较富足客户群体缴纳较高费用,以补贴非收费客户——还美其名曰生态系统。An ecosystem, in case you do not know, is a state of mutual co-dependence between organisms, often where one organism has to submit to the other in order to achieve balance.一个生态系统(如果你不告诉这个)是有所不同有机体相互依存的一种状态,往往其中一个有机体必需屈服于另一个,才能保持平衡。None of this is new. 这一切都并非新鲜事物。

The last time a country normalised a complex web of interdependencies, it was called Gosplan. 上一次一个国家让一个简单的相互依存网络常态化,还是苏联国家计划委员会(Gosplan)时代的事情。Just like today’s internet economy, this Soviet system was based on the idea that a technocratic and scientific central planning process could justly punish some to the benefit of others.正如当下的互联网经济一样,苏联这一体制基于的理念是,某种技术官僚的、科学的中央规划过程,可以理直气壮地为了教化于某些人而惩罚另一些人。And, like today’s internet economy, it normalised the false idea that scientific progress could cultivate a cornucopia of free resources with no associated costs or losses of freedom.也像当下的互联网经济一样,它让一种错误理念正常化:即科学变革可以培育一种免费资源的聚宝盆,而会有涉及成本,也会丧失权利。That fallacy ended abruptly in 1985. 这种谬误在1985年轰然坍塌。

A spate of economic crises, consumer shortages and regional instabilities, including the re-emergence of nationalistic sentiments, revealed that the centralised, cross-subsidised economy of the Soviet Union was bankrupt and had to be reformed.当时一连串经济危机、消费品紧缺及地区不平稳(还包括再次加剧的民族主义情绪)说明了出有,中央集权、交叉补贴的苏联经济模式早已倒闭,被迫进行改革。What followed was the era of perestroika and glasnost, meaning restructuring and openness respectively. 随之来临的是改革(perestroika)和对外开放(glasnost)的时代。By that point, however, it was too late to save the Soviet system. 然而,那时要挽回苏联体制早已太晚。

Its internal imbalances had become too large. 其内部流失过分相当严重。In 1991, the USSR collapsed under the weight of its own failing economy.1991年,苏联在经济每况愈下的重压下解体。Yet, in the wake of that collapse, something else happened. 但在苏联解体后,又经常出现了新的情况。

The removal of subsidies from those who had grown so hopelessly dependent on the system that they could not fend for themselves outside it led to a backlash. 对于那些早已无可救药地依赖苏联体制、没这个体制就无法养活自己的人,中止补贴引起了反感杯葛。Many yearned for the return of the old system, no matter the totalitarian cost. 许多人渴求重返原有体制,无论极权政权的代价有多低。Political freedom, it turned out, was in some cases just too costly.事实证明,有时候政治权利的代价实在太大。

Imagine what the outcome would be if the digital economy experienced a similar adjustment.想象一下,如果数字经济经历类似于的调整,不会有什么样的结局。