Sunday, March 28, 2010

Riding out the long tail

I wouldn't say I agree with everything Anderson has to say, but the initial article that led to The Long Tail by Chris Anderson was a key inspiration for this here blog. That nugget was a bit of the same thing as the climactic speech in Revenge of the Nerds, when he says that there are more of us nerds, spazzes geeks and so on than beautiful people. The idea of the long tail is that while loads of people like the mainstream stuff, nearly everyone has at least one "niche" thing they like, and so, for a seller, it can be an equally viable business model to sell lots of niche things, instead of a few mainstream things. I'm not trying to sell you anything, but I am a life-long inhabitant of that long tail, in that almost everything I've ever liked has been "niche". So, while I don't expect too many people to ever see my blog, I would encourage everyone who does to go as far out on whatever long tail they occupy as possible. We are very lucky, in these early days of the 21st century. We have more access to more obscure stuff than ever before, with better access, and easier access than ever thought possible. With a little luck, and a little research, if you thought some unknown actor in some "b" movie from 20 years ago was pretty special, you can find out what they're up to, these days. Likewise, if you liked hardcore punk rock, and you liked the sloppy, dark psychedelia of the Butthole Surfers, and wanted them put together, you could find Facepuller . If you like the odd time signatures of math metal, but the melancholy keyboards of gothic metal, you could find Returning we hear the larks . That's how far out the long tail you can ride!
I'll be the first to admit that I'm not so very far out, and obviously, I still like fairly mainstream stuff. The Clash, The Ramones, Queens of the Stone Age, etc ; I can swim in the mainstream. Heck, I even have a Lost theory (the island is host to a Genie-like entity that most folks are calling the "man in black", who is locked in a struggle with another powerful being {Jacob} who's like an Angel {think Jacob's ladder} which means that the story in Lost is about the trials and temptations of people seeking enlightenment). That's pretty mainstream! But, that's the beauty of doing away with the concept of mass culture- popularity doesn't matter either way! you can like completely mainstream stuff, and completely obscure stuff equally, and at the same time. You don't have to play either of those two old adolescent pastimes- trying to fit in, or trying to be an individual. You can simply just be. That's what I'm suggesting, and I hope you can see the potential, and already are riding your own long tail...