Archive for October, 2007


The very interesting Long Tail

Yesterday I finally finished The Long Tail by Chris Anderson. Reading a book about economics makes me feel very smart… Although I did get some flak for reading it when someone who had never read or even heard of the book suggested it must be some sort of a self-help book for people that want to open a business. Oh puh-leaze.

The Long Tail is about – well, the Long Tail, really. If you’ve never heard of it, I suggest you read Chris Andersons original WIRED article about it. And/or maybe, his blog. Or let me try to explain it.

If you had a diagram of, say, songs sold on iTunes, you would have a few songs that millions of people want. Like Umbrella by Rihanna or Dear Mr. President by Pink or what have you. So as an example, if we have 10 million people buying Umbrella, and iTunes gets, say, 50 cents per sale, they make 5 million dollars with that one song. This is the head of the diagram.

The Long Tail diagram

But then, if iTunes has 10 million songs that are not as popular (like Tami Hart or Transvision Vamp) and that only get bought by two people a year, then in effect they sell 20 million songs in total, and they make 10 million dollars off of that.

So, that’s basically what the book is about, and it has many examples of companies “using” the Long Tail and explains why the Internet can cater so well to the Long Tail.

The book is somewhat repetitive, which I found to be rather helpful. I don’t have an economics background (at all) and so pointing out the important things to me several times made it easy for me to follow.

All in all, I thought the book was very interesting and I hereby recommend it to YOU.


Pick a name

I recently had a Caramel Frappuccino at Starbucks. I’m told I shouldn’t go there, but I should rather support smaller companies. I reckon that makes sense, although they can’t make a Frappuccino. On the other hand, smaller companies probably don’t charge you 6,- EUR for a beverage and a cookie either. But do they play Sarah McLachlan’s Adia on their speakers? I don’t think so!

Anyway, the reason for this entry is that the guy at the counter asked me what name to put on my plastic cup, so I told him my name. I’m not sure why. Did he actually imply that he wanted to write my name on the cup? No.

On the one hand, I value my privacy and I don’t like giving out my personal information. Yet, if I meet someone in person and they show the least interest in who I am and what I’m about, I’m quick to tell them my life story and all the crazy ideas I’ve been thinking about. I’m chatty as long as I have an audience.

Nevertheless, the barista (as they’re called these days, although he wasn’t actually the one making the coffee) didn’t care about my life story. He just wanted to write something on my cup, not unlike a nurse would do for a urine sample. (This might be my worst simile yet.)

Next time when the guy in the green apron asks me “what name should I put down?”, I’ll just pick one. Ani, maybe, or Kaki, or one he’ll be able to spell correctly.