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January 05, 2005

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» The Long Tail from tins ::: Rick Klau's weblog
You ever see a phrase pop up overnight — suddenly it’s everywhere, you have no idea what it means? For me it was last week and it was “the long tail”. I saw it in blogs, I saw it in... [Read More]

» Information Overload Makes Better Specialists from Scott McMullan: ehick
Mary Hodder has posted on Information Overload -- a problem dear to many people's hearts. [Read More]

» Trailing the Long Tail from TeledyN

Insects. Insects are always worthy of attention. Insects outweight the rest of animated matter by a huge margin; cellphones and other embeddeds outweight all the desktops too and therein is our lesson for today: Insects are always worthy of attent [Read More]

» L'abondance de choix en ligne accroît-elle ou non la demande ? from InternetActu.net
En décryptant, pour un livre à paraître pour 2006, des données issues de détaillants en ligne pour illustrer quantitativement les hypothèse formulées dans l'article "La Longue Queue", Chris Anderson s'interroge sur son blog : l'existence de la "L... [Read More]

Comments

Peter

information about things, also known as metadata

To my mind, information about things is data. Metadata is data about data.

chris anderson

Peter: Good point--I was sloppy in lumping the two together. I've edited the post to tease out the difference between information about products and information about information.

Stephen Balbach

Very interesting and very true. Recently when faced with 3 brands of Cranberry Juice, I picked the one that had the least number of bottles remaining on the shelf, under the assumption it was the most popular. This must be a common, if not unreliable, shopping strategy.

But even the Long Tail providers don't all understand the importance of this idea. For example Wikipedia does not have a hit-counter on each article page, so when looking through half a million documents, it's difficult to know popular pages. There is a featured article canidate section to showcase the best, but it only covers 900 articles and doesn't reflect the wisdom of the crowds. Google page ranking is one idea, but when dealing with obscure articles (the long tail), many articles might only have 1 to none external pages linking to it.

Oli

I've sometimes wondered whether there's not a market for consumer barcode scanners that could provide data, reviews, ethical probity ratings, food mile estimates etc for the goods on supermarket shelves. You want to know about something, scan it and ask the wireless wisdom available

Greg

Chris, I must say that I find the long tail to be a very exciting concept. It has had me buzzing since I first read your article. I understand how popularity can give people a starting point that with good filters or connections between one thing and another can help to lead people down the long tail, but I cant help but think that referring to this as tapping the wisdom of the crowd is giving too much credit where little is due.

If we all follow each other, do we really have any grounds for thinking that some one has bothered to check the ingredient labels for potentially dangerous chemicals, or filler? Who is employing their intelligence when they base their choices upon the choices of others?

This reminds me of a phenomenon that I read about in a book titled "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" by Robert B. Cialdini. In that book there are a couple of examples of how the idea that other people who are in a better position to know than you are can push people into doing irrational things that can be very counterproductive or get them hurt.

One example given in the book is of a kind of traffic accident sometimes caused by people all trying to get over into the same lane suddenly. The theory goes that when two or more people ahead simultaneously put on their turn signals perhaps purely be coincidence then people behind, who probably believe that those drivers see some kind of trouble that they, as yet don't, start playing follow the leader, and end up pushing someone to the edge of the road.

I realize that an example of how a rule of thumb may break down does not necessarily mean that this rule is never useful. Indeed it may be useful much of the time, but in regards to the wisdom of the crowd as a guide to finding good buys, perhaps you could explain why it does not lead into error more often, or even just as frequently as it does to good bargains.

Eric Spiegelman

So the Long Tail is actually a Long Trail - one that others have already explored and posted signs

Joe Gratz

Not only is variety sometimes not enough, but variety plus metadata is sometimes still a little too much. That's Kevin Kelly's point when he sings the praises of Costco on his Cool Tools blog:

They make shopping easy by eleminating the tyranny of non-essential choice. You don't have to waste cycles trying to scrutinize similar models or brands. They do that for you: "here's the good enough one you need" they say. The typical Wal-Mart store will have 80,000 unique stock items; the typical Costco will have only 3,500.

There's value in having a retailer do the sifting for you, as Hammacher Schlemmer has been claiming to do for years with its "The Best" gimmick.

Ryan Muldoon

Be careful when looking for ways to leverage "The Wisdom of Crowds". Simple popularity is a measure, but not necessarily a measure of quality. It can also just be a measure of advertising effectiveness. Which sort of defeats the purpose of "The Long Tail". Crowds are wise when lots of *independent* bits of information can be collected. This is why betting markets are useful. Mistakes are averaged out. But if you have a model in which people base their decisions explicitly on the actions of others, then you have a scenario in which pluralistic ignorance can arise. The classic example of this is found in The Emperor's New Clothes. Cass Sunstein also writes about this in Republic.com, but he calls it the Snowball effect. There is a significant amount of decision literature on this in economics and psychology journals. The moral of the story tends to be that the causal model of information acquisition matters a great deal.

David Locke

Grocery store shelves are stocked with merchandize that is tuned to the cultures that comprise the local demographics. If you wanted to use a recommender system, you would have to be a member that matched those local demographics.

You are, in fact, not tapping into the wisdom of the crowd, but rather, the wisdom of the self selected crowd.

I've lived in places where the local "agency" store didn't fit my demographics or psychographics at all. I ended up cross shopping three levels of stores where only the root store had what I wanted, because that store was not tuned to its neigborhood, but rather to the role of being the regional store. Well, maybe it was tuned to the purchase histories of the region, and that would include a summarization of its subordinate stores.

I'd be looking for a way to capture my demographics and psychographics, so my recommeder would be recommending me. The data is already there. But, one-to-one requires a buyers card, and frankly, I'm tired of them. Still, if the shelves could tell me what people like me would buy, then tapping into my "culture" would suit me more than the wisdom of the self selected crowd.

David Locke

In the "culture" like me concept, the scale of the data warehousing effort would be that of the entire chain. It would be a matter of all the outliers like me and outliers are who you reach with your long tail.

David Locke

The barcode scanner as a the basis for external information services is a great idea. They would have to tie to location-based services, because barcodes are only standardized within a given grocery chain.

A laser curtain built into the store fixtures could be used to screen out all those items that we would never buy. The fixture would have to know where I was standing. Bluetooth could probably handle that.

New items wouldn't be screened.

The shopper would end up with a smaller, more information designed store within the store.

Ariel Ben Yaakov

BH
Curricula Vitreous (CV) 2005 Mr. Ariel Ben Yaakov
ArielBenYaakov1@hotmail.com
972 050 8731718
Accomplishments, Experience and Employment:
1978-1982 Worked towards freeing Soviet Jews (“refusnicks”) from former USSR by attacking their NY agents and office.
1984-2000 Accomplished guitarist and singer-songwriter. Composed, engineered, performed and produced music and songs including albums “Covenent” and “Jew lost in Exile” and “Heart of Love”. Song copyrights made over $70,000,000 in US pop music market. Music companies refused to pay (Name: Eric Spiegelman & Eric Alrich).
1988 Engineer at Mini-Circuits Labs working with RF and microwave components (Name: Eric Spiegelman).
1989 Applications engineer at Anritsu working with analog, digital, and optical communications system and network testing. Digital communications protocols, Internet, ISDN, RF, and microwave (Name: Eric Spiegelman).
1990 Test Engineer for slip rings at Electro-Miniatures Corporation defense subcontractor (Name: Eric Spiegelman).
1990 Petitioned successfully for dolphin safe tuna.
1991 Petitioned successfully to US government, UN and Russia to put an end to the holocaust in Yugoslavia by air strikes and war crime trials under label “Justice Society” (Name: Eric Spiegelman).
1991-present Worked on classified engineering projects and music projects. Torah study. Vowed to fight injustice.
1994-1996 Litigated pro-se in US SDNY federal courts suing US music companies for profits they made from my infringed music copyrights of over $70,000,000. Made record of rampant corruption and injustice in US courts and government-corporate system including the Mafia. Learned the US system as inside observer. Began to publicize record of corruption.
1994 Fought against pedophilia in the USA and petitioned successfully to US government for federal laws against pedophiles. Over 30,000 pedophiles in US prisons now. FBI and US justice department deny corruption allegations of government due to corruption (Name: Eric Spiegelman).
1994 Petitioned successfully to US government to fight US terror and Mafia terror; which caused 1,000 new FBI agents to be hired, death penalty in New York to be legislated and 9mm guns provided to the police.
1995-1996 Litigated pro se against record companies and US government for abuse of power to pervert justice, bribes, corruption, fixing cases in the SDNY courts. FBI and Mafia attacks me in attempted frame ups, incarcerations, murder and frame ups. I run “bait and kill” operations to stop Mafia hit men murders and publicize rampant US government-corporate crimes and corruption. Framed by government to mental hospitals and chemically tortured as “mentally ill” to cover-up.
1995 In depth Torah study of the holocaust and the ethics of social responsibility give me insight and I write Torah essays titled “The Holocaust: Sin and Punishment” and “The Blood of Your Brother” (Name: Eric Spiegelman).
1995 As a paternal descendant of king David I empowered my right as a royal Davidic prince to re-establish the fallen royal House of David which is dedicated to social justice, fixing the world, destroying tyrants, producing Holy music, bringing people closer to Hashem and Torah and Truth, the defense of Israel and oppressed peoples everywhere and leading people to the redemption of mankind as one mankind under Hashem. I suffered much opposition. I am eligible to be Davidic king.
1997 Senior engineer at Raytheon Missile Systems Division. Worked on the new Patriot, AMRAAM, Sidewinder, Hellfire, standard missile, radar, etc.. Details or work are classified. (Name: Eric Spiegelman).
1998 Moved to Israel to study (“Rabbinical”) Torah studies. Publicized US crimes. Invented anti-missile system patent that one military expert says is like “a machine gun against the Romans”. IDF incorporates system; manufactured by Rafael. Teach social justice and purity and Noachide Laws to the public. Opposition to this provokes further corruption cover-ups, bribery frame-up arrests against me. I hold firm in my position and beliefs. Discovered cure for chronic sinusitis.
1999 Composed, engineered, performed and produced album “Heart of Love”. Studied Torah. Worked as patent attorney.
2001-2002 Robbed of any payment for intellectual property, am framed to incarceration by corrupt Israeli oligarchy. While in incarceration and tortured with name murdered as “mentally ill”, I plan and pass plan to Israeli government a plan to stop out of control daily Muslim terrorist attacks in Israel. Plan is subsequently employed by PM Sharon (with certain deficiencies, for various reasons) and is called “Magain Homa” by IDF.
2002 Upon release from incarceration, in poverty, continue to work for justice and moral purity in society. Study Torah.
2003 Learned, in depth and breadth, the Torah subjects of the Redemption, the Messiah son of David, the tribes of Israel and the wars of Gog, to the extent where I am an expert on these subjects and wrote book manuscripts called “The Messiah” and “Proof of God, Redemption and the Tribes” and related Torah and social justice essays. People give me gifts.
2003 Invented highly effective, mass killing, field weapon patent. Name classified. Manufactured by Rafael.
2003 Invented highly effective non-classified anti riot weapon patent and anti-mine system (not patented).
2003 Discovered and revealed plot of anti-Semites in CIA and Saudi Arabia to sell out Israelis and USA to support and cover-up Muslim terrorists attacks on Israel and USA (motivated by $700,000,000 in Saudi bribes to corrupt US government officials). Developed and partially implemented intelligence plans to undermine and subjugate the enemy.
2004 Discovered cure for AIDS (to save some loyal, righteous, friends). Lack of resource capitol prevents manufacture. As offshoot, initiated development of “HIV AIDS Accelerator Chemical Warfare Agent” to accelerate eradication of HIV + Erev Rav and Amalekites currently in power in Israel and the new Rome, as part of war against the Erev Rav and Amalek.
Education:
1974-1980 Franklin School ( AKA Anglo-American School ) in NYC. Sports (Name: Eric Spiegelman). Intensive private guitar and music study. Bio-chemistry, cell biology, and genetics study with step father Dr. Russell Barrnett, head of the Yale medical school. Music composition & music electronics study with PHD father Professor Joel Spiegelman.
1980-1982 Pre-med natural sciences and social sciences “Power and Authority” at SUNY at Purchase college.
1983-1987 BSEE Technion, Haifa, Israel. Computers, Communications, Electro-optics (Name: Arik Spiegelman).
1988-1992 Bel-Canto voice study and the art of singing at Judy Hages private music school (Name: Eric Alrich).
1978-present traditional standard Torah study specializing on social justice and its application to rectifying society.
All stated herein is true. References and recommendations available to appropriate parties upon request.

Eric Spiegelman

BH
Curricula Vitreous (CV) 2005 Mr. Ariel Ben Yaakov AKA Eric Spiegelman
ArielBenYaakov1@hotmail.com
972 050 8731718
Accomplishments, Experience and Employment:
1978-1982 Worked towards freeing Soviet Jews (“refusnicks”) from former USSR by attacking their NY agents and office.
1984-2000 Accomplished guitarist and singer-songwriter. Composed, engineered, performed and produced music and songs including albums “Covenent” and “Jew lost in Exile” and “Heart of Love”. Song copyrights made over $70,000,000 in US pop music market. Music companies refused to pay (Name: Eric Spiegelman & Eric Alrich).
1988 Engineer at Mini-Circuits Labs working with RF and microwave components (Name: Eric Spiegelman).
1989 Applications engineer at Anritsu working with analog, digital, and optical communications system and network testing. Digital communications protocols, Internet, ISDN, RF, and microwave (Name: Eric Spiegelman).
1990 Test Engineer for slip rings at Electro-Miniatures Corporation defense subcontractor (Name: Eric Spiegelman).
1990 Petitioned successfully for dolphin safe tuna.
1991 Petitioned successfully to US government, UN and Russia to put an end to the holocaust in Yugoslavia by air strikes and war crime trials under label “Justice Society” (Name: Eric Spiegelman).
1991-present Worked on classified engineering projects and music projects. Torah study. Vowed to fight injustice.
1994-1996 Litigated pro-se in US SDNY federal courts suing US music companies for profits they made from my infringed music copyrights of over $70,000,000. Made record of rampant corruption and injustice in US courts and government-corporate system including the Mafia. Learned the US system as inside observer. Began to publicize record of corruption.
1994 Fought against pedophilia in the USA and petitioned successfully to US government for federal laws against pedophiles. Over 30,000 pedophiles in US prisons now. FBI and US justice department deny corruption allegations of government due to corruption (Name: Eric Spiegelman).
1994 Petitioned successfully to US government to fight US terror and Mafia terror; which caused 1,000 new FBI agents to be hired, death penalty in New York to be legislated and 9mm guns provided to the police.
1995-1996 Litigated pro se against record companies and US government for abuse of power to pervert justice, bribes, corruption, fixing cases in the SDNY courts. FBI and Mafia attacks me in attempted frame ups, incarcerations, murder and frame ups. I run “bait and kill” operations to stop Mafia hit men murders and publicize rampant US government-corporate crimes and corruption. Framed by government to mental hospitals and chemically tortured as “mentally ill” to cover-up.
1995 In depth Torah study of the holocaust and the ethics of social responsibility give me insight and I write Torah essays titled “The Holocaust: Sin and Punishment” and “The Blood of Your Brother” (Name: Eric Spiegelman).
1995 As a paternal descendant of king David I empowered my right as a royal Davidic prince to re-establish the fallen royal House of David which is dedicated to social justice, fixing the world, destroying tyrants, producing Holy music, bringing people closer to Hashem and Torah and Truth, the defense of Israel and oppressed peoples everywhere and leading people to the redemption of mankind as one mankind under Hashem. I suffered much opposition. I am eligible to be Davidic king.
1997 Senior engineer at Raytheon Missile Systems Division. Worked on the new Patriot, AMRAAM, Sidewinder, Hellfire, standard missile, radar, etc.. Details or work are classified. (Name: Eric Spiegelman).
1998 Moved to Israel to study (“Rabbinical”) Torah studies. Publicized US crimes. Invented anti-missile system patent that one military expert says is like “a machine gun against the Romans”. IDF incorporates system; manufactured by Rafael. Teach social justice and purity and Noachide Laws to the public. Opposition to this provokes further corruption cover-ups, bribery frame-up arrests against me. I hold firm in my position and beliefs. Discovered cure for chronic sinusitis.
1999 Composed, engineered, performed and produced album “Heart of Love”. Studied Torah. Worked as patent attorney.
2001-2002 Robbed of any payment for intellectual property, am framed to incarceration by corrupt Israeli oligarchy. While in incarceration and tortured with name murdered as “mentally ill”, I plan and pass plan to Israeli government a plan to stop out of control daily Muslim terrorist attacks in Israel. Plan is subsequently employed by PM Sharon (with certain deficiencies, for various reasons) and is called “Magain Homa” by IDF.
2002 Upon release from incarceration, in poverty, continue to work for justice and moral purity in society. Study Torah.
2003 Learned, in depth and breadth, the Torah subjects of the Redemption, the Messiah son of David, the tribes of Israel and the wars of Gog, to the extent where I am an expert on these subjects and wrote book manuscripts called “The Messiah” and “Proof of God, Redemption and the Tribes” and related Torah and social justice essays. People give me gifts.
2003 Invented highly effective, mass killing, field weapon patent. Name classified. Manufactured by Rafael.
2003 Invented highly effective non-classified anti riot weapon patent and anti-mine system (not patented).
2003 Discovered and revealed plot of anti-Semites in CIA and Saudi Arabia to sell out Israelis and USA to support and cover-up Muslim terrorists attacks on Israel and USA (motivated by $700,000,000 in Saudi bribes to corrupt US government officials). Developed and partially implemented intelligence plans to undermine and subjugate the enemy.
2004 Discovered cure for AIDS (to save some loyal, righteous, friends). Lack of resource capitol prevents manufacture. As offshoot, initiated development of “HIV AIDS Accelerator Chemical Warfare Agent” to accelerate eradication of HIV + Erev Rav and Amalekites currently in power in Israel and the new Rome, as part of war against the Erev Rav and Amalek.
Education:
1974-1980 Franklin School ( AKA Anglo-American School ) in NYC. Sports (Name: Eric Spiegelman). Intensive private guitar and music study. Bio-chemistry, cell biology, and genetics study with step father Dr. Russell Barrnett, head of the Yale medical school. Music composition & music electronics study with PHD father Professor Joel Spiegelman.
1980-1982 Pre-med natural sciences and social sciences “Power and Authority” at SUNY at Purchase college.
1983-1987 BSEE Technion, Haifa, Israel. Computers, Communications, Electro-optics (Name: Arik Spiegelman).
1988-1992 Bel-Canto voice study and the art of singing at Judy Hages private music school (Name: Eric Alrich).
1978-present traditional standard Torah study specializing on social justice and its application to rectifying society.
All stated herein is true. References and recommendations available to appropriate parties upon request.

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it is true, great post.they would have to tie to location-based services, because bar codes are only standardized within a given grocery chain. The moral of the story tends to be that the causal model of information acquisition matters a great deal.

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Tidbits

The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Notes and sources for the book

FREE was available in all digital forms--ebook, web book, and audiobook--for free shortly after the hardcover was published on July 7th. The ebook and web book were free for a limited time and limited to certain geographic regions as determined by each national publisher; the unabridged MP3 audiobook (get zip file here) will remain free forever, available in all regions.

Order the hardcover now!