Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Long Tail Turns Out to Be a Tale Tale

Lee Gomes reports that the "Long Tail" is a an exagerration. Pity, the long tail theory seemed to validate my pack rat collection of odds and ends. Hey who knows, my collection of comics might be worth a bundle one day. - Portals: "Wired Magazine editor Chris Anderson's hot, new best seller, 'The Long Tail,' is causing a sensation with its eye-opening claims about the way the Web is rewriting the rules of commerce. But I've looked at some of the same data, and some more of my own, and I don't think things are changing as much as he does."

Incidentally, long tail doesn't quite explain generational shifts that causes ripples in the cultural continuum. Cool today, out tomorrow, cool day after tomorrow is actually pretty rare in music. Nick Drake comes to mind as one of the few exceptions. The common wisdom is that thanks to video stores, old stinkers such as "Plan 9 rose from the grave to become cult classics. One problem with this line of thought: before video stores, there were the art film houses, now mostly extinct, which made the cult classics possible. Most college dorms these days are not decorated with posters of W.C. Fields or the Marx Brothers. College film buffs are a rare breed now, and their favorites tend to be the work of obscure and unbelievably bad young film makers.

To succeed in the future, TV shows must first be hits. The magic number for syndication is 100 episodes. But even the old TV shows now on DVD have a limited or non-existent appeal to a new audience. Let's face it, "Route 66" is not going to have reurgence any time soon.


Steve said...

In my opinion, there is truth to the long-tail theory, but it is probably going to take a little longer to be felt than the book predicted.

This has happened with other internet driven theories or business models. For example, newspapers are still around and only recently have begun to see their circulation numbers begin to decline as readers turn to on-line news sources. Ten years ago some internet pundits were declaring them doomed and as good as dead.

Same with the idea that on-line merchants would replace the brick and mortar stores. Hasn't happen yet, but year after year on-line stores are growning in size and dollars earned.

Eventually the long-tail will prove out. It's just that the revolution in selling will take longer than expected. If anything, we can forgive the author for his hyper claims, as who would want to buy a book that promises to describe a trend that will short of change things in maybe a few years or more?

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