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iOS逆天隐性功能有望颠覆传统互联网

2014-04-11    来源:fortune    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

最近面世的信息应用FireChat利用了iOS 7尚未充分开发的“多点连线框架”功能,允许FireChat用户绕过传统的网络相互之间实现互联。如果加入的FireChat用户足够多,它就能形成一个本地化的网状网络,在传统网络和移动信号尚未覆盖的地方形成一个替代性的网络。

A few weeks ago, a messaging app called FireChat launched. It looks, at first, like just about any other messaging app in an already very crowded market, but FireChat is sneakily subversive and quite possibly the most important thing to happen to the Internet since international network hubs began to form in 1995.
几周前,有一个叫做FireChat的信息应用发布了。第一眼看去,它好像和本来就已经很拥挤的应用市场上的其他同类应用没有什么区别,但实际上它是一款具有潜在颠覆性的应用,说不定还是自1995年国际集线箱开始成形以来,对于互联网来说最重要的一件大事。

(This is the moment when you ask: "Wait ... what? Why?")
(可能这时你会问:“等一下……你说什么?为什么?”)

FireChat uses a criminally underexploited feature in iOS 7 called the Multipeer Connectivity Framework. This sounds fancy and complicated, but all it means is that one Apple (AAPL) device (an iPhone, an iPad, even an iPod touch) can connect to another without using the Internet. That last part is the most important and worth repeating: The device need not have a traditional network connection -- 3G, wireless, whatever -- but is instead creating its own network with another device. Two smart, connected machines, communicating via their own wireless signals, or Bluetooth, to talk to one another: This is what's called a peer-to-peer connection. It's also how Apple's Airdrop feature works.
FireChat使用了一个iOS 7尚未充分开发的功能——“多点连线框架”。这个功能听起来很新潮又很复杂,其实它只是意味着一台苹果设备(iPhone、iPad甚至是iPod touch)无需使用互联网就可以与另一台苹果设备互联。这句话的后半部分是最重要的地方,值得再强调一遍:这台设备不需要传统的网络连接——无论是3G还是无线网,它可以和另一台设备建立自己的网络。也就是说,两台智能设备,通过自己的无线信号或蓝牙进行互联,这就是所谓的点对点连接,也即苹果的点对点共享功能的原理。

(You're probably thinking: "I don't see how this is subversive, or particularly important.")
(你可能会想:“我看不出来它有什么颠覆性,或者有什么特别重要的地方。”)

Right! Well, let's first go back to 1995, or even earlier, when the Internet was young and wild and mostly on university campuses, where various nerds in front of computers connected with various other nerds in front of computers, and those nerds' computers were connection points, but also nodes -- an entry point for others to join the network, and in so doing create another node, too. Basically, one person's computer could directly access the other person's computer, and so on, along a chain of computers. This evenly distributed, wholly interconnected web of machines is called a mesh network. It's the way the Internet was, mostly, for a long while: entirely decentralized constellations of connectivity among a vastness of, well, nothingness, 'net-wise. As the Internet grew, an important philosophical and physical shift occurred. Rather than an evenly distributed mesh network, the Internet became dependent on centers -- hubs for all those spokes. Look at a map of the physical Internet, and you'll see.
对!但是首先我们回溯到1995年,当时互联网还比较年轻和混乱,很多科技宅坐在电脑前面联络其它的科技宅,这些科技宅的电脑就是连接点,同时也是节点——即其他人加入网络的接入点,而其他接入网络的人又创造了另一个节点。基本上,一个人的电脑可以直接连到另一个人的电脑,这样就形成了一个“电脑链”。一个个电脑链组成了一个所谓网状网络。在很长的一段时间里,互联网都保持着这样的形态,也就是由大量“小蚂蚁”构成的完全分散化的计算机群。随着互联网的发展,互联网出现了一个重要的哲学上和物理上的变迁。它不再是一个均匀分布的网状网络,而依赖于一个个中心,也就是集线箱。看看实体互联网的地图,你就会明白这一点。

(At which point you might ask: "So this is a different way to connect, but is it better?")
(看到这里,大家会问:“那么这是一种不同的连接方式了,但它是一种更好的方式吗?”)

Great question! No, of course not. Not yet. Multipeer connectivity has serious drawbacks, and FireChat only works when you are within about 30 feet of another person with a device that has FireChat. But -- and this is a huge, crucial, important "but" -- the way a mesh network works is that the larger the network, the greater the connections, the farther its reach. So if you are, say, in a stadium with a bunch of people using devices with FireChat, then presto: You have a rather robust network, over distances much greater than 30 feet.
这是个好问题。不过答案是否定的,当然不是,至少现在还不是。多点连接存在严重的缺陷,而且现在FireChat的连接范围仅限于30英尺内的另一部安装了FireChat的设备。但是——这是一个重大的、关键的、重要的“但是”——网状网络的运作方式是,网络的规模越大,连接就越好,它的连接范畴也就越广。因此如果你在一个体育馆里,这里还有许多使用着FireChat的其他人,那么一瞬间你就有了一个很强大的网络,而且它的范畴也远远不止30英尺。

("How's that?")
(“怎么会这样?”)

Think of a daisy chain, or an old-timey firefighter bucket brigade. One device connecting to another, maybe 20 feet away, and that one connects to another, maybe 10 feet away, and so on and so forth, the distances pile up, but the network remains, and each link is a link that strengthens the chain (and connects to more than one device -- hence the "mesh"). Two people that are 1,000 feet away from one another are able to connect using the links caused by 20 or 30 other devices. The network could be miles in diameter, even. Or the size of an entire town, theoretically.
想象一下“串行”理论,或者很久以前消防队员排成的传递水桶的队列。一台设备连接到另一台大概20英尺远的设备,这台设备又连接到另一台大概10英尺远的设备,距离叠加了起来,但是网络仍然存在,而且其中的每个环节都增强了这个链条(而且每台设备都连接了不只一台设备——所以叫“网状”网络)。两个相隔1000英尺远的人,通过20或30个人产生的链接就可以互联。这个网络的直径可能达到几英里远,理论上甚至可以覆盖整个城镇。

 ("I'm beginning to see why this is different, but I still don't see how it's better.")
(“我开始明白它为什么不同了,但我仍然不明白它为什么是种更好的连接方式。”)

Yes, well, this also gets at how mesh networks are a bit subversive, too. It's better because it is different, is what many argue. Look at the connectivity problems in the U.S. -- the country invented the Internet, yet has miserably slow speeds compared to most of the rest of the developed world. Most of the issues have to do with the fact that the Internet is centralized, and our connection to it is controlled by a few gigantic companies. Couple that with the fact that our current, centralized network structure allows for rampant scraping of our data by large government agencies, and mesh networks begin to look like a safer, more secure alternative.
对,明白了这个原理,你也就明白了为什么网状网络具有某种颠覆性了。它之所以更好,就是因为它不一样,虽然许多人不认同这一点。我们不妨看看美国的网络连接问题——这个国家发明了互联网,但它的网速比起其他发达国家简直慢得可怜。大多数问题的根源在于互联网是中心化的,我们的网络连接主要是由少数大公司控制着。此外,目前中心化的网络结构使大型政府机构有机会猖獗地窃取我们的数据,这样一来,去中心化的网状网络似乎就变成了一个更安全的替代性选择。

("If you're a terrorist, sure. But I'm not, so ...")
(“如果你是个恐怖分子,这一点当然成立。但我不是,所以……”)

So you should still care about mesh networks! Think of them more as a boutique Internet, controlled like a co-op or neighborhood association. Of the mesh networks in existence -- and there are many -- the connection is often faster, and definitely cheaper, than its mainstream alternative. It also allows access to communities and individuals who wouldn't connect otherwise -- who live in an area too rural or poor or expensive for a big ISP to lay fiber. Don't you think everyone should have access to the Internet? This is a very good way of going about it. And it's less creepy, more grassroots and artisanal if you will, than Facebook's drones.
那你还是应该关注网状网络!你可以把它当成一个浓缩的小互联网,由一个像合作社或社区协会这样的机构管理着。现在社会上也已经有了很多网状网络,它们的速度一般都比主流网络更快,而且毫无疑问也更加便宜。而且网状网络也使那些无法连接互联网的社区或个人有了使用网络的机会——比如有些人住得地方要么太偏僻,要么穷得没钱找网络服务商拉一根光纤入户。你不是认为应该“人人有网上”吗?网际网络是一个很好的实现途径。跟Facebook高大上的无人机计划相比,网状网络不那么奇怪,更加的草根化,更富于DIY精神。

("Okay, okay. I'm going to download FireChat. What should I expect?")
(“好吧,我想下载FireChat。会发生什么?”)

Well, don't get your hopes up just yet. You'll have to get others to download and join for it to have any really useful application. For now, there is some entertainment value in flicking over to the "Everyone" setting, which shows you -- yes -- everyone chatting on the app, via a traditional Internet connection. It's chaos and like peering into the dark id of early Internet adopters. There's a lot of trash-talking and flirting bordering on harassment and cursing and, mostly, people just trying to figure out how to use this thing. "Anyone here?" is a pretty typical entry. (And to answer: Not really, no, no one else is here yet.)
不过,当下还是不要对它期望太高。要想让它达到任何实用性的应用程度,首先还得让其他人下载这款应用、而且还要加入它。目前它只不过具有一些娱乐价值,也就是大家都通过传统的互联网连接在这款应用上聊天。它现在还很混乱,有点像早期互联网网友那种两眼一抹黑的感觉。里面有说废话的、约炮的、骂人的,大多数人仍然不明白怎么使用这个东西。“有人吗”是很典型的开场白。(你可以这样回答:没有,现在还没有其他人。)

But the promise of FireChat and the mainstreaming of mesh networks is great. Sundar Pichai, the Google executive charged with running the company's Android, Chrome, and Google Apps products, mentioned the use of mesh networks in wearables and home automation at the South by Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas this year. There are obvious, and tremendous possibilities for mesh networking as the Internet of Things takes off. (Wouldn't you rather have a friendly, localized Internet for your oven to connect to?) More immediately, this reporter plans to use FireChat this summer when he travels abroad with friends and needs to, say, find them in a crowded street market, but does not want to get hit with a roaming charge on his dataplan. Or again, when he's backpacking and out of signal range. There are obvious uses during events, when networks clog and slow or simply collapse. Or during disasters.
但是FireChat的前景和网状网络的主流是好的。负责Android、Chrome和Google Apps产品的谷歌(Google)高管桑德尔•皮恰伊在今年于德州奥斯汀举办的西南偏南互动音乐节(the South by Southwest Interactive festival)上,提到了将网状网络用于可穿戴设备的构想。另外网状网络在物联网上显然可以大有作为。(你难道不想有一个友好的、本地化的互联网连接到你的烤箱上吗?)另外,笔者计划今年夏天和朋友出国旅行的时候也使用FireChat,这样哪怕在一个拥挤的街市走散了,又或者我们走到一个没有手机信号覆盖的地方,我们也能找到对方,同时还不用支付高额的漫游费。另外在大型活动的时候,我们也不用担心网络阻塞、变慢或是崩溃了。它也可以用于灾害中。

As it stands, there are still plenty of spaces in between, patches of darkness among the now robust and beaming constellations of Internet across the globe. FireChat specifically, and mesh networks much more generally, will be useful in all these places. And, soon, many more places too.
现在,全球互联网虽然蓬勃发展,但仍然有一些地方是互联网的真空地带。FireChat和其它网状网络将会在这些地方派上用场,而且很快也会在很多其它地方普及开来。(财富中文网)



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