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.

akg

7 comments:

HCPL Techincal Trainer said...

Great First MLA Post. Yes, I would love some links.

BookChickJen said...

From a person who knows that "One Size" does not fit all in clothing or information, kudos to the man! We've heard for years that everyone is an individual, yet we put limits on what is available.

Jennifer

HCPL Techincal Trainer said...

And where can we find a copy of his presentation? On the MLA Wiki?

HCPL WebMaster said...

It's too bad libraries are getting out of the "long tail" business and providing materials predominately for the "head" ... maybe there should be some new dialog on a statewide level as to what libraries can do to preserve niche interests...

Dances With Keyboards said...

Hopefully, the trend to address "the long tail" in business and in the information arena will mean that every interest, no matter how esoteric, can be catered to in some way.

Dances With Keyboards said...

In response to hcpl tech trainer: I would keep watching the MLA Wiki - but so far, the presentation is not there. He isn't a Maryland person, so perhaps we might not get to see the slides. I did do a search in Google for .ppt files about Anderson and "the long tail," and found some of the same slides incorporated in presentations that he has done for other groups, so maybe... If I find it, I will link to here. Meanwhile, the Wikipedia link is available, and it has plenty of information. Enjoy!

Annie said...

This is why I like the My LibraryDV downloadable DVDs. From browsing the list it looks like mostly classics, independent films, and TV travel and cooking shows, not the blockbuster popular movies that everyone wants. Offering these types of titles on a downloadable basis is reaching that long tail!