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Long Tail Blog (Updated)

In October's Wired, Chris Anderson published "The Long Tail", an insightful article describing why on-line distribution turns the Law of Scarcity upside down and makes previously obscure works -- music, movies, literature -- widely available.

"Hit-driven economics is a creation of an age without enough room to carry everything for everybody. Not enough shelf space for all the CDs, DVDs, and games produced. Not enough screens to show all the available movies. Not enough channels to broadcast all the TV programs, not enough radio waves to play all the music created, and not enough hours in the day to squeeze everything out through either of those sets of slots.

"This is the world of scarcity. Now, with online distribution and retail, we are entering a world of abundance. And the differences are profound."

Now Anderson is blogging the Long Tail idea as he writes a book about it. The posts so far aren't particularly insightful, but I think its a blog worth watching.

Via Virginia Postrel

Update (December 22, 2005): Stephen Pierzchala, who writes the Lost Below the 49th blog argues that Anderson's thinking is hardly original.:

"The whole reason that the Internet retail channel was touted in the first place was for just the reason that Chris Anderson has "discovered" in the Long Tail: all-the-time access to everything in market niche X. So why is the blogosphere heralding this as a new discovery?"
Good point: Anderson isn't original. I commented at Stephen's blog, but thought I would reprint it here.:

"It's not new, and you'll note that Virginia mentioned that she had covered the concept in Forbes ASAP in 1999. Kevin Kelly's New Rules for the New Economy (1998) touched it, as did Frances Cairncross in the Death of Distance ('96, if memory serves).

"What's not new but relevant about Anderson's article is

"a) it's coming after the dot-bust. Rightly or wrongly, much of the "net punditry" slate was wiped clean in 2000-2001. A lot of relevant stuff written them was tossed in the trash heap with all the worthless stock options.

"b) In 1998-2000, little history could guide us. We only knew how going digital "should" affect intellectual property. Now we know a lot more, and Anderson did a pretty good job of pulling that together. It's not original, but it's important because many more managers are ready to think about the message.

"c) Yeah, he "invented" a term for it. A pithy one that people are latching onto. As a communicator, I can say that is only good. Again... not original, but right place and right time."


Allan Jenkins posted this at 10:44. Permalink |


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