【双语】照骗 The camera always lies-书迷号 shumihao.com
“No Filter” chronicles the rise of Instagram
《无滤镜》记录了Instagram的兴起【《无滤镜》书评】

ON A BEACHSIDE walk in Mexico in 2010, Kevin Systrom’s girlfriend explained the problem with his new photo-sharing app, then called “Codename”. Professionals might want the world to see their pictures, but her own phone snaps weren’t good enough. Back at the hotel, Mr Systrom coded a quick solution: a filter that gave even the most basic shot a hipster finish. He applied it to a snap of a dog by a taco stand, and uploaded it, making it the first image posted to what became Instagram.

二〇一〇年在墨西哥一处海滩散步时,凯文·斯特罗姆(Kevin Systrom)听女友说在使用他新开发的照片分享应用时遇到了一个问题,这个应用当时叫“代号(Codename)”。专业人士也许会想让全世界都看到他们的照片,但她用自己的手机拍出的照片不够好。回到酒店,斯特罗姆编写了一个快速解决方案:一个能把随手拍出来的普通照片变时髦的滤镜。他把这个滤镜加到一张抓拍的照片上——一个墨西哥玉米卷摊旁的一只狗狗,然后上传。这是上传到后来改叫Instagram的应用上的第一张照片。

A billion users later, the look in that filtered photo is ubiquitous. Square proportions, high contrast and darkened edges have instantly smartened up profile pictures, holiday albums and advertising campaigns around the world. In “No Filter” Sarah Frier, a technology correspondent at Bloomberg, uses close access to Instagram insiders to give a lively and revealing account of how the world came to see itself through Mr Systrom’s lens.

有了10亿用户后,使用这个滤镜的照片已经无处不在。裁剪成正方形、提高对比度、加上暗角,转眼间让世界各地的个人头像、假日相册和广告活动焕然一新。在《无滤镜》(No Filter)一书中,彭博的科技记者莎拉·弗莱尔(Sarah Frier)通过和Instagram内部人士的近距离接触,生动地揭示了整个世界如何开始通过斯特罗姆的滤镜看自己。

The tale of nerds who struck gold offers glimpses of Silicon Valley’s weirdness. In the early days Mr Systrom and his co-founder, Mike Krieger, patched errors with their laptops on camping trips and took a call from Justin Bieber when he forgot his password. Later, haggling over Instagram’s sale to Facebook, a crunch negotiation took place over a barbecue at Mark Zuckerberg’s mansion, with the Facebook founder grilling meat he boasted of shooting himself, though he was unsure if it was venison or boar. Mr Systrom went to the Vatican to persuade the ultimate influencer to sign up—and @franciscus obliged.

那些挖到金矿的书呆子们的故事让人们一窥硅谷的离奇之处。一开始,斯特罗姆和他的联合创始人迈克·克里格(Mike Krieger)在露营途中用笔记本电脑修补错误,他们还接到了贾斯汀·比伯的电话,因为他忘了密码。后来,在把Instagram卖给Facebook的讨价还价中,一场关键的谈判在马克·扎克伯格大宅的烧烤会上进行,这位Facebook的创始人一边烤肉,一边吹嘘说这是他自己打来的肉,虽然他不确定到底是鹿肉还是野猪肉。斯特罗姆前往梵蒂冈说服教皇方济各(@franciscus)开设账号,这位终极意见领袖最后同意了。

The sale, for a then-unthinkable $1bn, went sour. At Facebook “every single activity…stemmed from a religious obsession with growth,” writes Ms Frier, who is even-handed but seems closer to Instagram’s founders than Facebook’s high command. As its new owner steered Instagram towards taking ads and making money, some early employees, who had wanted to build “a community centred around the appreciation of art and creativity…instead felt that they had built a mall”. Mr Systrom, a perfectionist who initially oversaw every ad carried on Instagram, personally editing one to make the French fries look crispier, was seen by Facebookers as a precious snob.

这笔在当时难以想象的价值10亿美元的交易后来变了味。弗莱尔写道,在Facebook,“每一个行为……都源于对增长的虔诚痴迷”。作者不偏不倚,但相比和Facebook高层的关系,她似乎和Instagram的创始人走得更近些。新主人让Instagram刊登广告并赚钱,而一些早期员工原本想要建立“一个围绕欣赏艺术和创造力而打造的社区……结果却发觉自己盖了个购物中心”。斯特罗姆是个完美主义者,最初他会监督Instagram上的每个广告,还亲自编辑过一条,好让薯条看起来更脆。但在Facebook的人看来,他矫情又自命不凡。

As Instagram grew bigger and cooler, Facebook began to act “like the big sister that wants to dress you up for the party but does not want you to be prettier than she is”, complains one Instagram executive. Mr Zuckerberg limited how many people Instagram could hire. He even got cross that its new video app, IGTV, had a logo that looked a bit like that of Facebook Messenger. In 2018, after six years of this, Mr Systrom and Mr Krieger quit.

Instagram的一位高管抱怨说,随着Instagram越来越大、越来越酷,Facebook开始表现得“像个姐姐,想把你打扮好了去派对,但又不想让你比她更漂亮” 。扎克伯格限制了Instagram的员工人数。他甚至因为它的新视频应用IGTV的logo有点像Facebook Messenger而生气。就这么过了六年之后,2018年斯特罗姆和克里格双双辞职。

Within this business story are several subplots. One is how Instagram blurred the lines between the personal and the promotional. Snoop Dogg, a rapper, made what may have been the first paid Instagram post in January 2011, when he uploaded a picture of himself “Bossin up wit dat Blast”, a new drink. At least before covid-19 struck, Kim Kardashian could make $1m from a single post to her 157m followers; over 200m users had 50,000 followers or more, enough to make a living as “human billboards”. America’s Federal Trade Commission has said influencers should declare when they are being paid. They often don’t.

在这个商业故事里还有几条支线。一个是Instagram如何模糊了个人分享和广告促销之间的界限。说唱歌手史努比·狗狗(Snoop Dogg)在2011年1月上传了一张自己喝着新品饮料Blast的照片,配文说“Blast爽翻天”,这可能是Instagram上发布的第一条付费帖文。至少在新冠疫情爆发之前,金·卡戴珊向她的1.57亿粉丝发一条帖文能赚100万美元;超过二亿用户的粉丝数达到五万人以上,足以作为“人形广告牌”谋生。美国联邦贸易委员会(FTC)表示,网红们在有偿发帖时应该声明。他们通常都不会。

Another subplot is how an app that people use to document their life turned into one that determines how they live it. At first this was a virtue. In the early days Instagram began encouraging wholesome outings to scenic spots for users to photograph. But it has become a problem. Some photogenic places, like Norway’s Trolltunga cliff, have been overrun. Worse, the ability to edit photos to perfection has spread insecurity. “I don’t know what real skin looks like any more,” complains Chrissy Teigen, an Instagram star.

另一条支线是人们用来记录生活的应用如何变成了一个决定他们怎么生活的应用。一开始这是件好事。在早期,Instagram鼓励人们去风景优美的地方开展有益健康的户外活动,并拍照留念。但现在这已成了一个问题。一些适合拍美照的景点,比如挪威的恶魔之舌悬崖(Trolltunga cliff),已经人满为患。更糟的是,照片能够被美化到完美无瑕疵这一点让不安全感蔓延。“我都不知道真正的皮肤是什么样子了。”Instagram上的红人克丽丝·泰根(Chrissy Teigen)抱怨说。

All this brought in $20bn for Instagram in 2019, or a quarter of Facebook’s revenue. But perhaps encouragingly, some in the company have come to see perfectionism as a risk to Instagram’s business. Young people have embraced Snapchat and, more recently, TikTok, as networks where they can go unfiltered. There they can post even imperfect shots: of their ordinary selves, their ordinary lives, even an ordinary dog by a taco stand. ■

这一切在2019年为Instagram带来了200亿美元的收入,占Facebook年收入的四分之一。但或许让人欣慰的是,公司里的一些人已经意识到完美主义对Instagram的业务是一种风险。年轻人已经喜欢上了Snapchat和最近的TikTok(抖音国际版),他们在这些网络平台上发帖时无需加滤镜。他们甚至会发布不完美的照片,展示普通的自己、普通的生活,甚至是墨西哥玉米卷摊旁一条普通的狗。