Friday, August 18, 2006

The Long Tail

The Long Tail

I've justed finished reading Chris Anderson's book The Long Tail. The concept of The Long Tail has become pretty popular lately. If you aren't familiar with it, the basic idea is that the internet age has reduced the popularity of the hit and increased the popularity of all the niche products that appeal to a smaller group who know can access that niche more easily. One of the interesting things that Anderson discusses in his book is the increase of producers and creators who are making products primarily for the niche end of the distribution curve. These niche products may vary in quality, so creating filter and recommendation systems for people to sort through the vast choices becomes of utmost importance. While providers like Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes may have created good filter/recommendation services, they have the advantage of offering professionally produced content for the most part. In the world of visual media, sites like iFilm and YouTube seem not to have developed such systems, perhaps because they don't seem to have recommendation systems that make recommendations on the ratings you provide (or if they do, they're not immediately obvious based on my browsing of these sites).

Anderson's book is also especially interesting in terms of what the decline of the hit and the rise of the niche means to our shared culture (or lack there of). He posits a world where we inhabit many small groups based on interest, some of which overlap and some of which do not. In essence, though everyone no longer has the same set of basic cultural touchstones, we most likely share niche interest with almost everyone...

This isn't meant to be a full review, but rather an enthusiastic plug. I highly recommend the book for anyone interested in technology, culture, and the economy in general and anyone who considers themselves part of the visual content industry in particular. Check out the blog at the above address as well.


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