TAG: Long Tail

Did the Long Tail Beget Social Design?

A conversation I had today rewired the idea of the Long Tail for me.

The Long Tail, or the death of the product shelf (where shelf space becomes irrelevant when content is digital) brought on tremendous change in the economics of distribution. Netflix rents most of its movies from the catalog of past movies, not from the current list of blockbusters. Same with Amazon and books, iTunes and music. Christopher Anderson goes into a lot more details in the book he wrote on the subject: The Long Tail.

When content is digital, a public good, it is freely distributable by electronic means. It is infinitely copyable at 100% fidelity. Moreover, as the Long Tail shows, libraries of content can be built cheaply which provide value for the long term. Once Google digitizes all the books in the world they won’t ever have to again.

In other words, all content is available at all times.

What does this lead to? The Paradox of Choice! There are simply too many things to choose from. Which of the thousands of movies on Netflix do I rent? Which of the books on Amazon do I read? Which of the songs on iTunes do I listen to?

In the past, we listened to either the creator or the distributor for help. Since choice was limited, they would steer us to something in their limited selection. You either went to one of the movies at the local theater, or you didn’t watch a movie. You either bought a book from the book store or checked one out of the library, or you didn’t read. If you were lucky enough to be near a creator (like a rock band) you either went to the pub to listen to them or you went without live music.

The creator and the distributor, however, had a problem. They were always and forever biased…

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The Long Tail of Popularity

Update: Simplified the beginning…

In his 2005 Les Blogs presentation Doc Searls, in his explanation of what blogs are and what they are not, suggested that:

“We are all authors of each other.”

What exactly does Doc mean by this? Does he mean that we author other people’s lives, and they ours, whether or not we want them to? Or could it mean something more optimistic, that we author each other gladly?

Then there’s the problem of popularity. How does popularity fit into the idea that we all author each other? Don’t popular things help shape us, too? Do the voices that add up to popularity author us in the aggregate?

Popularity is maligned as much as any attribute known to man. If you are popular, you are probably not worth paying attention to. It’s as if we are saying: “You already have too much attention, and I’m not going to give you more.”

But I think there is much more to popularity than unwarranted attention.

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Web 2.0 Talk – Leveraging the Network

Here’s the slide deck for a talk I gave on Web 2.0 for the Greater Boston Chapter of the ACM, a non-profit educational and scientific society of computer professionals in the Boston area.

Web 2.0 – Leveraging the Network (2.74 MB pdf)

In the talk I spoke about how Web 2.0 companies distinguish themselves by leveraging the network of which they are a part. Brittanica, for example, has had a web site for quite some time and were slow to leverage the network in any particular way. Wikipedia, on the other hand, exists only because they used the available network to improve their contents communally. And Wikipedia, of course, is a much, much more popular site.

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In the Blogging World You Don’t Have Sex on the First Date

Scott Karp is having trouble getting linked. The other day the proprietor of Publishing 2.0 and managing director of research and strategy for Atlantic Media admitted that despite emailing influential bloggers (Dave Winer, Jeff Jarvis, and Steve Rubel), he’s been unable to get them to link to his site.

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Which Movie to Watch? An Overview of Recommendation Systems

During lunch at work one day this week we were talking about movies, one of our favorite topics. Both Jared and Christine suggested watching the new Val Kilmer movie: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. They said it was quirky, funny, clever, and just a great story. They highly recommended it. But I got to thinking. Why […]

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Alex Barnett and his Shortening Tail

Alex Barnett writes: How RSS thickened my Long Tail. He wonders if RSS and other Web 2.0 aggregaton technologies can equalize page views over the long term, making the Long Tail a bit shorter.

The Long Tail and Web 2.0

Ever since his excellent Long Tail article was published in Wired last November, I’ve been following Chris Anderson’s writing over at the Long Tail blog. It’s becoming an invaluable resource for understanding today’s economics. The Long Tail is about focusing on the less popular content that previously couldn’t be accessed because of some physical limitation: […]

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