In our ongoing review of the phenomenally successful book, The Long Tail, we both thought long and hard about Anderson’s theory in respect of why we personally have decided to blog and podcast. As we see it, consistent with our general philosophy that providing quality content is the best way to demonstrate our own professional abilities, The Long Tail considers our approach to business development with Anderson providing some interesting insight on the topic.
At page 73 of The Long Tail, Anderson asks "Why do they do it?" Why does anyone create something of value without a business plan or even the prospect of a pay cheque? This question is a key to understanding The Long Tail, partly because so much of what populates the curve does not start with commercial aim. In fact, as we have thought for some time, the traditional business model needs to be reworked and we personally avoid the one-hit wonder approach to our business plan. Anderson goes on to explain this idea at page 74 of his book, when he cites Tim Wu, a Columbia law professor, who calls this phenomenon (at page 74 of his book) "exposure culture", pointing to blogging as an example:
The exposure culture reflects the philosophy of the Web, in which getting noticed is everything. Web authors link to each other, quote liberally, and sometimes annotate entire articles. E-mailing links to favourite articles and jokes has become as much a part of American work culture as the water cooler. The big sin in exposure culture is not copying, but instead failure to properly attribute authorship. At the centre of this exposure culture is the almighty search engine. If your site is easy to find on Google, you don’t sue – you celebrate.
We have provided at www.hullandhull.com a variety of articles that our firm has written over the years, plus a tremendous amount of resources in respect of articles that have been written by others. Futhermore, Ian and I believe that our new webpage (which will be arriving shortly) and our blogposts and podcasts only further demonstrate our commitment to always providing good content.
All the best, Suzana and Ian.
In Chapter 5 of The Long Tail Anderson reminds us that we now live in a society of new producers. He cites author Doc Searls, who calls this shift one from consumerism to participative "producerism":
The "consumer economy" is a product-controlled system in which consumers are nothing more than energy sources that metabolize "content" into cash. This is the absolutely corrupted result of the absolute power held by producers over consumers since producerse won the Industrial Revolution. Apple is giving consumers tools that make them producers. The practice radically transforms both the marketplace and the economy that thrives on it (page 64).
As Anderson notes, today millions of ordinary people have the necessary tools, such as the iPod, and the role models to become amateur producers. The Wikipedia phenomenon is a fascinating example of how amateurs are gaining credibility in "The Long Tail" consumer society.
At page 52 of his book, The Long Tail, Chris Anderson sums up his theory as follows: our culture and economy are increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of hits (mainstream products and markets) which constitute the head of the demand curve, and moving interest toward a huge number of niches in the tail.
Anderson indicates that there are six themes of The Long Tail:
1. There are far more niche goods than hits.
2. The costs of reaching those niches is now falling dramatically.
3. Search techniques and the range of tools for ranking effectively filter the mass of products and enable customers to find what they desire, driving demand down the tail.
4. The demand curve eventually flattens. There are still hits and niches, but in less extremes.
5. There are so many niche products that, collectively, they can comprise a market rivalling the hits.
6. The natural shape of demand is revealed and it is far less hit-driven than we have been led to believe. Instead, it is as diverse as the population itself. In an effort to better understand this recent trend, Anderson highlights a speech given by News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch in 2005. Murdoch proclaimed:
Young people don’t want to rely on a Godlike figure from above to tell them what’s important…They want control over their media, instead of being controlled by it.
Murdoch’s speech led Anderson to note that this positive change in our culture can be explained by the phenomenen of the Long Tail, where we can all be creators and producers of our own niche products. More on this in tommorrow’s blog.
Thanks, Ian and Suzana.