The Long Tail: What the Long Tail isn’t

Standard

A couple of months ago I was part of a discussion where I ended up feeling like some sort of luddite, mouth-breathing heretic for proposing the idea that the term “the long tail” was suffering from overexposure, and that there were — perhaps — cases where it might be inappropriate or irrelevant to apply it. As with “bayesian” in the months following “A Plan for Spam,” the fact that many of us were suddenly introduced to a term and concept with broad implications and a dangerously good pop-science accessibility score meant that we all wanted to find a way to use it. A lot.

Happily, though, the correction has started to set in…you should go read Chris Anderson’s What the Long Tail isn’t post in its entirely, but I’ll give you a couple of quotes that made me smile, just to whet your appetite:

“It’s time to draw the line. Long Tails are found everywhere, but not, you know, actually everywhere.”

“The fact that something isn’t popular doesn’t mean that it’s just a matter of time before it will benefit from all sorts of powerful demand-creation Long Tail effects. More likely, it’s just not good enough to be commercially interesting, and probably never will be.”