好书推荐《The Innovators》

innovators-9781476708690_hr

在去年一年没有读到5星读物,岁末年初读到了Walter Isaacson(对,就是写乔布斯传的那位)写的《The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution》,让我不经想到前几年读过的另一本好书,吴博士的《浪潮之巅》。

同是IT史书,《浪潮之巅》侧重讲述每个公司的起起伏伏,浪起浪落,讲得是离散;《The Innovators》更多的是把历史从连续性的角度来阐述,从创造第一个计算机程序的Ada,到后来三极管的发明,到Jack Kilby和Robert Noyce不约而同发明集成电路,再到后来互联网的发明。数字时代的种种进步都不是孤立的,innovation的发生是一群牛人的群体事件,无论是在被称作”Idea Factory”的Bell Labs里的team work,亦或是隔着几代的积累和交流,站在前人的肩膀的一点点改进都可能会是新的break through。

历史的车轮滚滚向前(当然看过《Idiocracy》也知道历史也可能倒退 -。-),在这过程中一些默默无闻的失败者,一不小心,也会成为历史中关键的那环。也当然,还有那些成功者出现在了正确的时间,正确的地点,从而引领了潮流,也得以留名千古。

多事之春

远在大洋那头,神秘的马航到现在没有踪影,乌克兰也还没消停,对岸的学潮轰轰烈烈,逢中必反。这边小小的硅谷也不太平,且不谈大大小小的融资,Bn级别的公司多如牛毛,奇奇怪怪的小公司让人不经质疑bubble的到来和何时破碎。

Mozilla的Brendan Eich做了一会儿CEO,不到半个月之后就下台了。一个javascript的author,一个在公司待了15年的老臣,倒在了Prop-8脚下。就因为4年前support Prop-8(ban gay marriage)捐了1000刀,他一上台,gay界开始各种boycott Mozilla,质疑声不断。

在旧金山,IT业的蓬勃发展导致贫富不均,屌丝逆袭,物价上涨,房租上涨,一些住了几十年的人被房东赶出,于是各种抗议也越来越多。T上市的时候就有人在公司门口抗议,发展到现在有人在Google shuttle前呕吐,有人去Kevin Rose(Digg创世人, Google Venture Partner)家门口发传单诋毁。这两天还听说一帮人专门在旧金山flip smart car。

更别忘了前段时间风风雨雨的SCA-5,为了讨好西裔选民,SCA-5不科学不公证的对待其他少数族裔。

这个世界是怎么了?

ps. HBO的新剧《Silicon Valley》上线,笑点还真不少。

写在Google Reader关闭之后

前两天还在抱怨好久没什么更新呢, 结果今天就关了. 互联网上好多的好的服务真是可惜, 各种死法, 服务太好成本太高垮掉, 大公司调整产品砍掉, 小公司被卖掉后产品被砍掉, 当然还有一种可能就是会被墙掉.

Google Reader的前PM在Quora上说:

Brian Shih, Former Google Reader Product Manager
Let’s be clear that this has nothing to do with revenue vs operating costs. Reader never made money directly (though you could maybe attribute some of Feedburner and AdSense for Feeds usage to it), and it wan’t the goal of the product.

Reader has been fighting for approval/survival at Google since long before I was a PM for the product. I’m pretty sure Reader was threatened with de-staffing at least three times before it actually happened. It was often for some reason related to social:

  • 2008 – let’s pull the team off to build OpenSocial
  • 2009 – let’s pull the team off to build Buzz
  • 2010 – let’s pull the team off to build Google+

It turns out they decided to kill it anyway in 2010, even though most of the engineers opted against joining G+. Ironically, I think the reason Google always wanted to pull the Reader team off to build these other social products was that the Reader team actually understood social (and tried a lot of experiments over the years that informed the larger social features at the company)[1]. Reader’s social features also evolved very organically in response to users, instead of being designed top-down like some of Google’s other efforts[2].

I suspect that it survived for some time after being put into maintenance because they believed it could still be a useful source of content into G+. Reader users were always voracious consumers of content, and many of them filtered and shared a great deal of it.

But after switching the sharing features over to G+ (the so called “share-pocalypse”) along with the redesigned UI, my guess is that usage just started to fall – particularly around sharing. I know that my sharing basically stopped completely once the redesign happened [3]. Though Google did ultimately fix a lot of the UI issues, the sharing (and therefore content going into G+) would never recover.

So with dwindling usefulness to G+, (likely) dwindling or flattening usage due to being in maintenance, and Google’s big drive to focus in the last couple of years, what choice was there but to kill the product?

Personally, I think that there is still a lot of value a service like Reader could provide — particularly in a world with increasing information overload coming us from many different sources. But Reader at Google was pigeonholed as an RSS-reader explicitly, and didn’t have a chance to grow beyond that to explore that space. But that’s neither here nor there.

[1] See Reader’s friends implementations v1, v2, and v3, comments, privacy controls, and sharing features. Actually wait, you can’t see those anymore, since they were all ripped out.

[2] Rob Fishman‘s Buzzfeed article has good coverage of this: Google’s Lost Social Network

[3] Reader redesign: Terrible decision, or worst decision? I was a lot angrier then than I am now — now I’m just sad.

真的好可惜啊, 还有这么多用户呢. 也开始对各种云产品更加不放心. 现在disk这么便宜, 好歹maintenance mode可以搞上很多年嘛, 干脆搞个snapshot也行啊.

暂时还没有打算找替代品, 好歹还能用到7月1号, 这段时间里应该会有很多替代品出现吧. 不知道有没有办法把我所有follow的blog所有过去的文章倒出来, 很多朋友的blog都没有了.

话说既然都到了云时代, 或者不如全自己架云host吧…

互联网的那些事儿

1. 网站那些事儿

周末的时候终于有空看完康神的演讲《网站那些事儿》,还是有点收获有点感想。

– Sina的播放器实在太烂… (怎么可以这么差)
– 要找对bottle neck,要把逻辑前移。也是个金字塔模型,80%的请求只需要20%的资源..
– 又想起华奶奶的“有一利,有一弊”,对系统做任何一个改动,总是有一利有一弊,又想马儿跑的快又想马儿不吃草的事是不可能的。当我们做任何优化的时候一定要牢记在心。
– 做sharding的时候要注意平衡(4square宕机),但同时要考虑各个shard要是自然属性分离的闭包,不然一个请求还是要访问多个shard也太亏了(商务网站买家和卖家的例子)
– Scalability 和 Availability – 一些不是很熟悉的技术:虚ip, BGP Broadcast
– Cache的使用 和 Dog Pile Effect(facebook宕机和skype宕机)

2. 互联网的多数人暴政 (Tyranny of the Majority)

这里倒不是想说人肉搜索,而是行业发展和网站运作时的必然选择,但让人觉得可怕。

圣诞的时候,在yelp上check-in一个餐馆时误check-in成了很同名的隔壁的餐馆,手机上不能取消那个check-in,今天突然想起来,可然后发现yelp网站上连看自己check-in历史的功能都没有。而后知道fb也没有,顿时就有种自己的数据被人强×的感觉。仔细想想,可能的确没很多人需要这个功能吧,于是这个feature或是被取消或是没有足够的priority。这种情况在web公司中实在是太常见了。

不记得从什么时候开始(可能是Google),所有的Web公司都开始追求数据数据数据,大家做着各种不同的A-B Test然后做一些艰难或不艰难的决定,总是去满足那些绝大多数用户,于是那些少部分用户,总会有些少部分的用户,就这样被抛弃了。

这是必然的吧,因为做网站的,用户(数量)当然是第一位的,Revenue也是第一位的,而那些小众,就随他去吧。所以经常的,你会发现你喜欢的这个那个功能,就不见了。在那个时候,我们就被代表了。

可是我们的选择权,在哪里?#damnyouweb2.0