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May 24, 2005


Alex Rowland

I think the biggest challenge for those that reside in the middle, or "neck" of the curve, is how to transition from unpaid amateur to paid professional. I think it is correct to assume that the vast majority of long tail content providers do not expect to make money from their effort(although some wouldn't mind it). But I think it's also true that many that are experiencing the relative success of moving closer to the head become more interested in earning a living from their time (and resource) investment.

The rub is that the very mechanism that enabled this marketplace to arise (open distribution) is the very same mechanism that makes earning that living so difficult. Without the economic system to support these producers the long tail won't reach its full potential.


"...it nicely compliments a blog".

"Why, Mr. Blog, you look very nice today!"
"Thanks, Mr. Point, so do you."

Sorry, pet peeve of mine. Do go on.


My pet peeve was hit by a car.

Eric Hamilton

One area still very much obsessed with the head is search. SEOs tend to target the most popular keywords, and ignore the long tail. I wrote an article on the subject today: The Long Tail: SEO Tips.

I'd be honored to get some feedback from you.

Oren Sreebny

There's something rattling around in my brain about the possible significance of people who have banged their heads for years trying to move into the head part of the curve settling down to do something else for a living and finding creative satisfaction in the tail.

I know that's true for me and many of my friends who struggled for years to try and "make it" in the music biz and have now returned to making music for the sheer joy of it (in my case, see http://www.whisperingj.addr.com ).


what most people fail to understand is that most of the "long tail" media being searched for/referenced/queried in some way is no longer published by media firms (distributed on CD, print form etc, available on video), so it is unattainable outside used purchases and auctions.

this is why 50% of the long tail is unknowable, and worthless....but this meme needs to run its course so please return to your previously scheduled blue-sky hypothesizing.

Jakob Nielsen

The comment on SEO and long tail is absolutely correct. For my own website, only 59% of the traffic from search engines came from the 490 top terms (generating more than 10 visitors each), and 41% came from 18,884 less-trafficed terms (generating 1-10 visitors each).

(Statistics for the last three weeks, but the same pattern has persisted for years.)

Ben Barren

The Long Tail is true but a convenient excuse for many.

Remember dot com 101 - cashflow planning, etc

Hey - I hope it works.

David Gratton


You point out that your decisions on what copyrights to apply are different depending on if your work is at the head or in the tail. More concerned with retaining rights at the head than in the tail where distribution is more important.

So I have a question:
Does your view on DRM also change at the head versus the tail?

Thanks. I enjoy your posts.

chris anderson


As I've written before I'm not a DRM absolutist. I think DRM should be flexible enough to recognize and respect different IP protections. Creative Commons licences are machine-readable, and I hope whatever DRM the services I use employ will be smart enough to read them and act accordingly.

David Gratton

Hi Chris,

Awesome thread of discussion. There goes a day!

CC licences are machine readable, but the important issue is that they explicitly provide additional rights not automatically granted by standard copyright. I think it is conceivable that a system could understand when a document is tagged with the lone C (or none at all) that it is covered under standard copyrights.

The DRM system you hope for is the 'accurate?' enforcement mechanism for those copyrights. (Noting: Cory has pointed out that present DRM mechanisms available are enforcing copyrights that holders don't have or never had historically.)

I guess I am trying to corner you into an answer to see where a content creator feels they need DRM protection. At what point do you go away from standard copyright notices (CC or otherwise) and trust the consumer to respect them (taking costly legal action when they don't) to embracing a DRM mechanism to technically enforce those copyrights?


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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.

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