| At the Corner of Technology and Culture

Long Tail The New Tipping Point

In the past week, I have come across the term “long tail” or “long tail business” a good half dozen times. I’d never heard of it before that. I sense a buzz word coming on. The ‘long tail’ now refers to businesses that are able to aggregate niche markets; wikipedia describes wikipedia itself as being ‘long tail’ in the sense that there are perhaps a relatively small number of people who want a long article on, say, techniques of making tete de moine cheese, but there’s a potentially large audience of people who want access to some piece of reliable, indepth article, which that large group can all find at wikipedia (wikipedia also notes that the term originally comes from statistics, as essentially, an improbable event. Chris Anderson, who according to Steven Johnson

is coming out with a book on The Long Tail, coined the current use of the term. For him, the proliferation of distribution channels (online, on cable TV etc) has allowed for the profitability of Long Tail businesses.

Maybe the parts of cbc radio that people tend to love the most are long tail services but without the multipicity of distribution channels.

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