Sunday, July 23, 2006

Lengthening My List of Tales About the Long Tail

As I mentioned previously, some people have the (silly, in my opinion) concern that the growth of niche culture will be harmful to society because of a loss of shared experiences. Mickey Kaus shares a great observation from an e-mail commenter that points out another twist - technology has made it much easier to share the slice of culture you’re into than it ever has been before:

... even though there are fewer people watching Jay Leno every night, it's now much easier to communicate with all the people who are watching.

When Bob and Mickey were growing up, you went to school if you wanted to talk about the Ed Sullivan Show and hoped your classmates would be talking about it.

Today if you watch even a niche Bravo reality tv show -- say
Top Chef or Project Runway -- you go to Technorati an hour after the show ends and find hundreds of people, far more than attend your classes or work in your office, who are talking about that night's show.


So years ago, common culture required that everyone be watching something at once. Now the Web allows things that would become defining cultural moments but for an audience to attract that audience after the fact.

How many people say that World Cup head butt live? How many saw it on SportsCenter, on an Internet video clip, etc. later on?

For the record, Chris Anderson has never said that the era of “hits” is dead, and actually argues that they are still necessary in order to bring consumers down the long tail.


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