Thursday, May 3, 2007
General Session - The Long Tail - Chris Anderson
Chris Anderson is Wired Magazine's editor in chief. He came to speak with us today about his concept of "The Long Tail."
The concept of the "long tail" describes statistically that while only a few examples of media (like blockbuster movies) draw the majority of interest, the rest of everything else that is "out there" garner the interest of a few people each, but collectively, garner the interest of just as many people.
Example: Movie theatres usually try to show all of the top hits - the movies which will gross the highest amount of ticket sales. However, there are many more independent films that may never be seen, because it isn't "worth it" to market a film that relatively few people will want to see. But if all those independent films could be shown at no cost, just as many people would view those independent films collectively as those who would view the few hot movies.
Traditionally, the commercial world has done what is economically more sound by providing products that are one-size-fits-all. Fewer choices have been marketed to us, because our commerce is driven by how much space is actually available to house products. We can't possibly house every possible book in any one library, for example.
The Internet, and other technologies make it easier to cater to the "long tail," which represents the interests of the many who are interested in the less popular content collectively. Bloggers and users who review products and services provide free advertising and recommendations. Digitized information that can be downloaded and read, printed, or viewed, or otherwise requested on demand reduce overhead to zero.
Anderson's address provided several eye-opening examples that illustrated the concepts quite nicely.