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.