Response to "The Long Tail"

My biggest problem with this piece is Anderson’s notion of “mass customization”. According to Anderson, large online companies like Amazon, Netflix, and iTunes, offer consumers a customized sample of material by using their previous purchases to lead customers to other material they might also enjoy (as demonstrated by the example of Amazon’s “Customers who bought this also bought…”).

Is this really customization? If these sites simply take tons of data and quantify people’s tastes so that it becomes easy to say that “if you liked that, you’ll really like this”, how does that translate into real, authentic choices for an individual? And if this is truly “customization”, does this come anywhere near liberating the individual from being marginalized into just another demographic for businesses to market to?

I agree with a lot of what Anderson writes, but I think maybe I’ll always remain a little suspicious about large companies that, in many ways, determine the value placed on different types of artists. In any case, this was a very interesting reading.

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