Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Blogging on Blogging

Hugh Hewitt has a new book that helps quantify what the blog is going on around here. Instapundit thinks it pretty good and I suspect it is though I haven't yet read it.

The following quote illustrates the power of the internet with respect to niche markets and niche tastes. Blogs are just the niche markets of opinion media and the tail is apparently very long.

Wired 12.10: The Long Tail: "To get a sense of our true taste, unfiltered by the economics of scarcity, look at Rhapsody, a subscription-based streaming music service (owned by RealNetworks) that currently offers more than 735,000 tracks.
Chart Rhapsody's monthly statistics and you get a 'power law' demand curve that looks much like any record store's, with huge appeal for the top tracks, tailing off quickly for less popular ones. But a really interesting thing happens once you dig below the top 40,000 tracks, which is about the amount of the fluid inventory (the albums carried that will eventually be sold) of the average real-world record store. Here, the Wal-Marts of the world go to zero - either they don't carry any more CDs, or the few potential local takers for such fringy fare never find it or never even enter the store.
The Rhapsody demand, however, keeps going. Not only is every one of Rhapsody's top 100,000 tracks streamed at least once each month, the same is true for its top 200,000, top 300,000, and top 400,000. As fast as Rhapsody adds tracks to its library, those songs find an audience, even if it's just a few people a month, somewhere in the country.

This is the Long Tail.

You can find everything out there on the Long Tail. There's the back catalog, older albums still fondly remembered by longtime fans or rediscovered by new ones. There are live tracks, B-sides, remixes, even (gasp) covers. There are niches by the thousands, genre within genre within genre: Imagine an entire Tower Records devoted to '80s hair bands or ambient dub. There are foreign bands, once priced out of reach in the Import aisle, and obscure bands on even more obscure labels, many of which don't have the distribution clout to get into Tower at all."

Truly this is a new Reformation. I wonder what the implications of the long tail will be in the realm of religion. It seems likely that this kind of media reformation will be very challenging to oppressive regimes like Radical Islamist and the Communist Chinese. On the other hand for Christiam Culture which has already undergone a famous reformation, there seems to be a move back to unity and authority. Christian Blogs will be interesting to me because of the tension between this move back to authority and the inherenent democracy of the blogosphere.

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