The Long Tail Phenomenom

The Long Tail has been the latest phenom here in the blogosphere. Its discussion of the choice freedom released by online retailers and distributors should be no surprise to anyone who has been online for more than 2 weeks.

My experience with this Long Tail goes back to the Christmas in 1998 when I bought a copy of Christmas in Connecticut (the original, not the schlocky re-make) from Amazon. Paid duty and shipping to have it sent to Canada. Very few of my peers had ever heard of it, and the only taped copy was an old Betmax version pulled from TV years before.

The whole reason that the Internet retail channel was touted in the first place was for just the reason that Chris Anderson has "discovered" in the Long Tail: all-the-time access to everything in market niche X. So why is the blogosphere heralding this as a new discovery? It has been with us since the beginning. But when someone "invented" a term for it, it is a new idea that needs to be discussed.

It is the original idea behind the commercial Internet. It is not news.

Next story please.

4 Replies to “The Long Tail Phenomenom”

  1. It’s not new, and you’ll note that Virginia mentioned that she had covered the concept in Forbes ASAP in 1999. Kevin Kelly’s New Rules for the New Economy (1998) touched it, as did Frances Cairncross in the Death of Distance (’96, if memory serves).
    What’s not new but relevant about Anderson’s article is
    a) it’s coming after the dot-bust. Rightly or wrongly, much of the “net punditry” slate was wiped clean in 2000-2001. A lot of relevant stuff written them was tossed in the trash heap with all the worthless stock options.
    b) In 1998-2000, little history could guide us. We only knew how going digital “should” affect intellectual property. Now we know a lot more, and Anderson did a pretty good job of pulling that together. It’s not original, but it’s important because many more managers are ready to think about the message.
    c) Yeah, he “invented” a term for it. A pithy one that people are latching onto. As a communicator, I can say that is only good. Again… not original, but right place and right time.
    All the best, Allan

  2. Long Tail (updated)Update (December 22, 2005): Stephen Pierzchala, who writes the Lost Below the 49th blog argues that Anderson’s thinking is hardly original.:
    “The whole reason that the Internet retail channel was touted in the first place was for just the reas…

  3. It’s not new, and you’ll note that Virginia mentioned that she had covered the concept in Forbes ASAP in 1999. Kevin Kelly’s New Rules for the New Economy (1998) touched it, as did Frances Cairncross in the Death of Distance (’96, if memory serves).What’s not new but relevant about Anderson’s article isa) it’s coming after the dot-bust. Rightly or wrongly, much of the “net punditry” slate was wiped clean in 2000-2001. A lot of relevant stuff written them was tossed in the trash heap with all the worthless stock options.b) In 1998-2000, little history could guide us. We only knew how going digital “should” affect intellectual property. Now we know a lot more, and Anderson did a pretty good job of pulling that together. It’s not original, but it’s important because many more managers are ready to think about the message.c) Yeah, he “invented” a term for it. A pithy one that people are latching onto. As a communicator, I can say that is only good. Again… not original, but right place and right time.All the best, Allan

  4. Long Tail (updated)Update (December 22, 2005): Stephen Pierzchala, who writes the Lost Below the 49th blog argues that Anderson’s thinking is hardly original.: “The whole reason that the Internet retail channel was touted in the first place was for just the reas…

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