The Long Tale of 2006. “What makes the long tail so disingenuous is that what happens in the long tail has almost no ramifications on what happens in the head.” With the internet, some of the most popular sites are “places like YouTube and MySpace where large amounts of user generated content drives traffic and then deposits money in hands not of the creators, but instead in the coffers of the large corporate landlords”.
Notes from day 3 at PopTech:
Chris Anderson talked about, ba ba baba!, not the long tail. Well, not explicitly. Chris charted how the availability of a surplus in transistors (processors are cheap), storage (hard drives are cheap), and surplus in bandwidth (DSL is cheap) has resulted in so much opportunity for innovation and new technology. His thoughts reminded me of how surplus space in Silicon Valley (in the form of garages) allowed startup entrepreneurs to pursue new ideas without having to procure expensive commercial office space.
Quick thought re: the long tail…if the power law arises from scarcity as Matt Webb says, then it would make sense that the surplus that Anderson refers to would be flattening that curve out a bit.
Roger Brent crammed a 60 minute talk into 20 minutes. It was about genetic engineering and completely baffling…almost a series of non sequiturs. “Centripital glue engine” was my favorite phrase of the talk, but I’ve got no idea what Brent meant by it.
Homaro Cantu gave a puzzling presentation of a typical meal at his Chicago restaurant, Moto. I’ve seen this presentation twice before and eaten at Moto; all three experiences were clear and focused on the food. This time around, Cantu didn’t explain the food as well or why some of the inventions were so cool. His polymer box that cooks on the table is a genuinely fantastic idea, but I got the feeling that the rest of the audience didn’t understand what it was. Cantu also reiterated his position on copyrighting and patenting his food and inventions. Meg caught him saying that he was trying to solve the famine problem with his edible paper, which statement revealed two problems: a) famines are generally caused by political issues and therefore not solvable by new kinds of food, printed or otherwise, and b) he could do more good if he open sourced his inventions and let anyone produce food or improve the techniques in those famine cases where food would be useful.
Richard Dawkins gave part of his PopTech talk (the “queerer than we can suppose” part of it) at TED in 2005 (video).
Bob Metcalfe’s wrap-up of the conference was a lot less contentious than in past years; hardly any shouting and only one person stormed angrily out of the room. In reference to Hasan Elahi’s situation, Bob said that there’s a tension present in our privacy desires: “I want my privacy, but I need you to be transparent.” Not a bad way of putting it.
Serena Koenig spoke about her work in Haiti with Partners in Health. Koening spoke of a guideline that PIH follows in providing healthcare: act as though each patient is a member of your own family. That sentiment was echoed by Zinhle Thabethe, who talked about her experience as an HIV+ woman living in South Africa, an area with substandard HIV/AIDS-related healthcare. Thabethe’s powerful message: we need to treat everyone with HIV/AIDS the same, with great care. Sounds like the beginning of a new Golden Rule of Healthcare.
2.7 billion results for “blog” on Google. Blogs: bigger than Jesus.
New Yorker review of Chris Anderson’s new book, The Long Tail. Oddly, there’s no disclaimer that Anderson works for the same company that publishes The New Yorker. Not that the review is all synergistic sunshine; the last half pokes a couple of holes in Anderson’s arguments.
More on baby name popularity. Over the last few decades, the most popular baby names have been used less and less as the number of uniques names has risen. 2005 #1 name Jacob was given to only 1.2% of boys while 1945 #1 name James was given to 5.4%. In other words, the long tail of baby names is flattening.
Blockbuster films are getting more expensive and accounting for less of Hollywood’s box office take…is Hollywood’s emphasis on big movies nearing its end? I’ve always thought it was dumb that the movie industry put so many of its eggs in so few baskets. (ps. Chris Anderson’s Long Tail book is available for preorder on Amazon.)
PayPal has changed their fee structure to allow easier micropayments. For payments less than $2, the fees with be “at a rate of 5 percent plus 5 cents per transaction” compared with “1.9 to 2.9 percent, plus 30 cents per transaction” on their regular transactions. Smart move by PayPal to harness the Long Tail of ecommerce. (via rw)
Steven Johnson reports on Dodgeball for Discover magazine and proceeds to riff on cities, Jane Jacobs, and the Long Tail. When considering the effects of the Long Tail, there’s a different between being able to d/l music by an obscure band when you live in a rural area and having the opportunity of seeing that band in person with other likeminded folks. (via dens)
Long Tail poster boy Amazon’s tail isn’t as long as first reported. Oops. (But a good oops…Chris is after the truth here, not just a good story.)
The Economist on the Long Tail, the current buzzphrase du jour. It’ll be interesting to see if the Long Tail idea will be “over” by the time the book comes out or if it’s got legs. Either way, it’s still an interesting way to think about your business.