The Long Tail Reading Response

After reading Chris Anderson's "The Long Trail," it makes me wonder as to when this great revolution will take place where the days of the hit movies, music, books and other media will be a part of the past and media that I would find more entertaining would be produced. It seems that it could easily become reality but also just become a small trend on the internet. What seems to be the largest obstacle is that of the three rules that Anderson mentions, only the first rule could really be implemented without significant difficulties. Since it is clear that people demand media in the long tail, companies like Amazon, Rhapsody and Netflix have found it profitable to meet this demand. So it only seems a matter of time that more and more media and information will be available on the internet until "everything" is available. This seems to have the most potential in the streaming or downloadable media format, especially as streaming movies becomes more common. The problem with this, as with the other two rules, is that intellectual property rights may play a role in to how well "everything" is made available. Anderson references the Sundance Film Festival where videos of each film shown could be made available, but because every film producer may want different compensation for distribution, this could get very messy. It does not seem unreasonable that every film producer feels that his or her film is at least a good film, and may feel that they should receive large royalties that mass distribution may not be able to offer them. The Sundance Film Festival may just create a contract with the film producers that bind them to a set system for distribution, but I am unclear as to how all of this would play out. All that does seem clear is that certain issues may arise relating to fair compensation.

Rule three next seems the most possible to implement because it would not involve any legal or monetary issues, just the difficult problem of telling people about things they actually like and not what somebody else might think they like. Some businesses on the internet offer some means of informing consumers about other products that are similar to things they have bought or what other people have bought that are similar to what they have bought, but this requires some basic information to begin. The current implementation of this has been successful in some cases, but in order to get good matches for what people actually wants more information has to be collected. Thus a conflict between privacy and productivity appears to be what will limit rule three.

Rule two seems at best has a slim change of happening. While I do not keep up with all of the current trends on the internet, there has been no effort to sell music for less than the industry standard that iTunes set. In order for rule to happen, the entire music industry would have to change. Even though they have been losing money in the last few years, a change in distribution from physical to digital would allow piracy to be even easier. It seems that the music industry's resistance to using digital distribution is fears about piracy, but piracy is already very easy to do. I feel that the only way to reduce the effects of piracy is for the music industry to make radical changes that will allow them to reduce the cost of producing music. By radical changes I mean get rid of the large publishers and let the musicians produce and market their own music using the internet. I have heard the musicians make a very small chunk of the profit from their own music, so it would be in the musician best interest to cut out the middleman.

Anderson brought up the good point that in this case, we could all use more lawyers, because there seems to be many legal issues that get in the way of the suggestions he makes. It is nice that he pointed out these trends, but it would have been useful if he would have suggested how to make the long tail available.

I appreciate the ways you differentiate among Anderson's "rules" -- I had the same response that you did to rule #2, which seems unlikely at best, if only because many of the large media corporations don't yet fully understand how they might remain profitable under such a system....