Archive for the ‘The Long Tail’ Category

I, Leftover

July 6, 2006

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Web2.0 gives power to the people, but those who talk about it are mostly interested in how the newly empowered people could be re-tamed and harnessed (what a horrible word) into a huge, faceless mass of buyers.

How do we make money from Open Source? When will Jimmy milk the Wikipedia cow? How do we harness the billion 50 cents? In other words, the mainstream discussion is always evolving around the “show me the money” and “where’s the business model”, with the underlying assumption that the right to exist (and to be empowered) should only be granted to money-generating objects.

Somehow, Prof. Benkler succeeded in discussing Grid, Wikipedia, Skype, Open Source and Citizen Media without falling into the “show me the money” trap. There was a different, human undertone to his lecture and I think it’s the first time I heard a web2.0 talk that really empowered me for what I am, i.e. a leftover.

I, Leftover.

The leftovers are taking over; the residuals and the idles are beating up the stronger and the brighter. It’s the time of the “Ordinaries” (and some are absolutely abhorred by that).

This is the real change, as so far the leftovers were only valuable because of their money. No one expected nor wanted them to contribute. “Contribution” has always been institutionalized, and research was always funded by econo-political interests.

But now the power to decide is at the hands of “I, Leftover”. When “I, Leftover” downloads a SETI@Home screensaver, she’s not only contributing processing power to a noble cause, but also making the SETI@Home project possible. When “I, Leftover” uses Skype, he’s not only saving money, but also helping to bring free voice to everybody, by making Skype possible (because of Skype’s p2p nature).

My point is that great things are now dependent on individual, layman decisions. I, as a leftover, find it encouraging.

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podcastIcon1.gif Yochai Benkler – Participation Revolution, 33:32, 15.3 mb, Oct 21st, 2005

Original Podlink: Participation Revolution

technorati1.jpg Technorati Yochai Benkler, Technorati the Podlink

The Long Tail of the Power Law

March 10, 2006

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Finally we, the users of Userland, have found our home, our place. It’s somewhere on the Long Tail of the power law distribution. The distribution qualified as power law presents the following pattern: small number of HUGE hubs with an endless other nodes connected to them. That’s how most complex, organic systems are built and that’s also the structure of the soon to be organic Internet: some relatively few sites are those which are most linked to (as demonstrated by A.L. Barabasi, Linked).

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Traditionally the Long Tail has been ignored. Focusing on the pareto, the 80%-20%, has been the rule. If 20% of my customers are responsible for 80% of my revenues – that’s where I’m going to spend my attention. That was true in the Brick and Mortar days – the time of no access or a highly limited one to alternatives, when one was entirely dependant on “what’s in stores today”.

But nowadays, the ubiquitous broadband Internet provides us with an ACCESS to an endless number of possibilities. The Long Tail of the power law can finally express itself and name its heroes. More importantly, the Long Tail can be monetized.

What Chris Anderson, the Editor-in-Chief of Wired magazine, showed in his research was that:

1. When ACCESS exists, the Long Tail of the past is no longer a Long Tail. Money – great deal of money – can be done by monetizing the Long Tail. From an economical perspective it is no longer a pareto, 80-20, but rather 50-50: revenues are almost evenly distributed between Hubs and Long Tail (endless nodes).

2. The Long Tail itself has its own power law distribution – it is an endless recursion. So if the traditional news providers – NYT, Le Monde, Der Spiegel etc. are the News Hubs of the World and the Blogosphere, on its 30 something million blogs is its Long Tail, this doesn’t imply that the Blogosphere has random distribution of popularity. Technorati’s Top 100 are the Huge Hubs of the Blogosphere. The rest of the blogs are this 100 Long Tail. Anderson provides one more statistic – an encouraging one: any dot on the Long Tail is approached if there’s a way to access it. Translation: any blog (pot) on the blogosphere will find its reader (cover), with a viable opportunity to become, one day, a mega-pot-hub on its own.

3. Finally, web2.0 is the technology of the Long Tail. Google, Amazon and eBay have all made their money by creating a formidable infrastructure that digs into the Long Tail and accumulates the insignificant cents into multi-billions of dollars.

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podcastIcon1.gif Chris Anderson: Economics of the Long Tail 00:38:30, 17.6 mb, March 17th, 2005

Original Podlink: Chris Anderson: Economics of the Long Tail

References:

Chris Anderson’s article on the Long Tail

Chris Anderson’s Blog: The Long Tail

technorati1.jpg Technorati the Long Tail, Technorati the Podlink