Although the style and topic of “The Long Tail” felt more conversational and accessible than a lot of the pieces we’ve read in class, it did touch indirectly on a lot of issues that were brought up in previous readings. One thing that occurred to me as I was reading this is that it connects to a lot of the ideas of post structuralism. While the media itself does not transition from “readerly” to “writerly” as Roland Barthes envisioned, much of the editorial authority is weakening as a result of the long tail” effect. There is still somewhat of an authorial authority in structure in the piece of art, but there is no longer as strong of an outside force between the author and his audience.
As more and more can be published economically on the web, editors have less of a say in what is put out into the world. In one sense this is incredibly liberating. I recently met a writer in the midst incredibly difficult process of getting published. She changed her original manuscript so that it could be more marketable, even though she wasn’t as happy with that version. With the long tail effect, she might have produced better work that still is able to find an audience.
Another aspect of the long tail I found really intriguing was the idea that regional taste no longer dictates what a consumer has access to. Even if you live in a rural community in the United States, you can have access to Bollywood hits that aren’t carried at the local video store, which is an incredible development.
One question I had about the article was the recommendations feature on Amazon and similar sites. While it may be accurate at picking similar things that we like, is it really helping us to discover media that is truly new? While I may discover a new author I like using Amazon’s suggestions, will I be introduced to a new genre if all Amazon knows about me is what I’ve previously purchased? I’m not saying that Amazon’s suggestions should be able to read into my soul and find my deeply hidden love for sci-fi, but I do feel the ability of these online recommenders was exaggerated in the piece. Nevertheless I really enjoyed this piece. It also made me want to spend hours browsing the web for new music!