Chris Anderson – Resistance is Fertile

[wikilike_img src=|width=240|align=thumb tleft|url=|caption=Chris Anderson Shows How Resistance is Fertile?]

Notes from Chris’ discussion during the netpublics seminar. He followed that up with an public presentation downstairs at the Annenberg Center for Communication, from which I have notes further down.

Why do I blog this? The Long(er) Tail is a steamroller meme with lots of resonance and entirely legible in the context of digital dissemination networks. And the netpublics seminar I’m participating in is drawn to the topic of social formations that arise in the context of such dissemination and communication networks. I’m also made profoundly nervous by things that seem to absorb lots of phenomenon into a graph. But there are questions wanting here. For instance, what are the consequences for innovation? How does the Long Tail miss comprehending the circulation of culture? What is the limit of The Long Tail — when does it break down or skid off into the bushes? Where are the ethics of The Long Tail, particularly if it’s easy to say that insurgency is The Long Tail of warfare? How can The Long Tail sustain itself when we make the safe assumption that the operators/aggregators at the head will behave selfishly to sustain their enterprises’ influence, power and economies? What happens when the head (aggregators) eats the tail – why wouldn’t that happen so that aggregators can reap more of the sum of the area below the graph?

Finally, why do I get nervous that so much fits into that graph there?

Herein are barely proof-read notes

* Insurgency is the long tail of warfare.
* Came to the subject of The Long Tail as an economist.
* Was collecting data on digital media trends.
* Now largely fleshing out the theory — the economics and “power laws”.

* What happens when we don’t have the scarcity effects?
* There is demand at the end of the tail, and with sufficient volume, you can create a market about the same size as the “head” of the tail.
* Don’t guess what people want — toss it out into the market. Don’t limit your inventory, in some sense.
* How do you drive demand, though?
* Findability — how do you find the stuff in the tail?

[wikilike_img src=|caption=Everything fits in the pretty picture!|width=240|url=|align=thumb tright]

Blockbuster, for example, has a more linear tail that falls off quickly because there’s no effective findability

* Mostly focusing on music, books and movies, but the book goes into a wide variety of topics.

* Does it translate to news dissemination? Yes, and the democratization of media production of a wide variety have long tail effects. Without it becoming a Grand Unified Theory of everything.

* Aggregators need the head and the tail.

* Biggest challenge is rights

WalMart and the goods that are "aspirational", but also just in inventory and "appear" to the consumer so as to create a sense of a wealth of availability.

In a sense, backfilling the tail to get the head to behave "transactionally." Similar to what aggregators need to do, according to Anderson — have a head so that the tail will follow.

* Nested (Russian Doll) aggregation, presentation defined by the specialist, but within a larger entity (amazon’s z-shops, or the notion of xyz’s list)

* e.g., Ebay aggregates a number of merchants and provides “findability”

* Can this lead to the head swallowing the tail? when does it break because the aggregators consume the micro-specialists? what happens when aggregators act selfishly and swallow the tail?

* The reason is that its a self-correcting market; as long as there’s no barrier to entry, someone else can come in (erraaa..don’t quite buy that one)

Notes from The Long Tail Culture public presentation.

How do you make a music hit?

Two options:

1) Find rare, unpredictable genius
2) Use lowest common denominator formulas


A desperate search for one-size-fits-all products
Trying to predict demand
Culling “misses”
Limited choices

In the 21st C

Shelf space is cheap and infinite
Inventory costs are negligible
Spectrum is irrelevant
Marketing can be free if search is included

[wikilike_img src=|caption=Everything fits in the pretty picture!|width=240|url=|align=thumb tright]

The Long Tail graph is the shape of all markets; if you reverse the tail, there’s much more stuff in the Tail. A large number of things represent “the rest” of the market of consumables.

Traditional industries are skeptical:
Barry Diller quote at Web2.0: “People with talent won’t be displaced by 18 million people producing stuff they think will have appeal.”
They think they have all the talent.

What’s great about the Long Tail? You can assemble an aesthetically-defined niche across a broad geographic range.

1. Democratize the tools of production (access to tools)
2. Lower the costs of consumption
3. Creative consumers

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