Links of the day

A few quick links that I thought were interesting.

  • After thinking about it, I did sign up to go to the Accelerating Change conference. If you’re interested, the Early Bird rate has apparently been extended to this Sunday, with a $50 discount thrown in if you read this post. At some point, I’m planning on writing up a participant statement, which I’ll share here, of course.
  • I really liked this Salon article (you’ll have to get a Salon day pass to read the whole thing), pointing out “Thanks to the Net, we’ve all got access to poll numbers, fundraising figures and endless political gossip — and we all know exactly what the candidates need to do to win.” I’m certainly as guilty of it as anyone. Does this ability of anybody with an internet connection to get informed about politics and offer ideas make for a better democracy? I’d like to think so. Even if all the ideas aren’t accepted, just having an active idea marketplace with more participants leads to better informed citizens, I think. Now if only more people were actually interested in thinking about this stuff
  • I also liked this VentureBlog article detailing the demise of mass marketing, and the rise of the “long tail”. It refers to this Wired article which goes into the idea in more detail, but the basic idea is that in a world of scarce attention and mass production, products are aimed at the lowest common denominator; since you can only produce a few things, you need them to appeal to the most people possible. This explains the pablum we see on our televisions (broad comedy has, well, broad appeal), hear on our radio stations (mass-marketed teen pop idols), etc. Only the 20% of products that will appeal to 80% of the population are worth pursuing. In the new world of personalized inventory, vendors can target the long tail – the 80% of the products that will only appeal to small subpopulations. Amazon and eBay are the obvious leaders of this trend – one of the reasons I tend to buy from Amazon rather than supporting my local bookstore is that Amazon has _everything_. The most obscure book I can think of, that probably only a few hundred other people want to read? It’s there, and will show up on my doorstep in a few days, whereas my local bookstore would never have it, and would have to special order it at extra cost, etc. eBay does the same thing. It’s an interesting idea. And one that appeals to me, since my tastes tend not to overlap with the mass market.