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Books and Papers - 3 - The Long Tail

The power law is everywhere - in choice of food, types of music, species distributions, etc. Over the holiday season I read The Long Tail by Chris Anderson. The subtitle of the book is How Endless Choice is Creating Unlimited Demand, and there is a provocative mix of economics alongside the reality of the power law frequency distribution of assets. The discussion of physical vs virtual assets is nice and balanced, as also is the discussion of the strategies for economic exploitation on various portions of the demand curve. I guess on-line resources, specifically scientific data sources, (both free and commercial) are a lot like this as well - the vast majority of the data is never accessed, whilst a small fraction makes up the majority of the interest. It does make you think about the 'long tail of scientific data', and the best approaches to archive, preserve and distribute it.

As an aside, when the book first came out, it seemed highly lauded, as a refreshing boost to business models built around the internet, diversity and revenue generation. However, it seems, even on the internet the 80:20 rule rules. Don't get me wrong, I think this is a really excellent though provoking book. Buy it!

%D 2007
%A Chris Anderson
%T The Long Tail: How Endless Choice is Creating Unlimited Demand
%I Random House Business Books
%O ISBN 978-1844138517

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