The idea of the "long tail," a concept popularized by Wired's Chris Anderson, permeates much of what is going on with the evolution of IT.
After all, it's the mass participation of almost everyone in creating content of various types that's driving an enormous amount of IT build out--which, in turn, may well change even how and who builds computers in the future. Simply put, the long-tail premise is that bestsellers aren't in the majority when one tallies up the sales at Amazon.com or the page views on blogs. Rather, it's the total of the far more numerous other 80 or 90 percent of content.
Less abstractly, Anderson's argument is about business. Namely, he argues companies can make money selling to the long tail as shown in the data that I discuss in this 2005 post. I thought and think that it's a powerful concept--although I also think it fair to ponder how many companies are truly well-positioned to make money from the long tail.
When Amazon, Netflix, and Google make their appearance as exemplars for the umpteenth time, one starts to wonder. (In all fairness, Anderson has additional examples; Amazon and Netflix just make particularly rich, data-heavy case studies.)
However, as well noted by Alex Iskold over at Read/Write Web this morning, there's a slightly subtle, but very important, distinction to be made when we're discussing making money on the long tail. It's about making money on the long tail, not making money in it. … Read more