Niche culture, long tail, the perspective of niche science&philosophy

July 12, 2006 at 3:43 pm 3 comments

In a brand new book by Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired, The Long Tail, Anderson explores the economical and cultural consequences of the so called long tail phenomena, the theory of which states that the market of the web fragment into countless niches and in the broadband era the big money could come from the niche products and services.
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With Anderson’s own words: “Our culture and economy are increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of hits (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve, and moving toward a huge number of niches in the tail. In an era without the constraints of physical shelf space and other bottlenecks of distribution, narrowly targeted goods and services can be as economically attracive as mainstream fare.” In chapter 11, called Niche Culture Anderson speculates about the cultural perspective of LT. If LT means infinite choice and ultimate fragmentation of people’s interests then what is the future of common culture which is the glue of society? “People are re-forming into thousands of cultural tribes of interest”… and construct their own cultural narratives. Can the rise of massively parallel culture which will replace traditional mass culture bring a real and present danger to the cohesion of society and common culture or to go niche is good to the freedom and expression of people? On the one hand, some argues that “egocasting” leads to narrow individualism, hurts genuine trials, and disconnects folks, while Anderson argues that “we are more likely encounter other individuals, either by reading their writings, chatting live, or just following their example” People are more strongly tied in a niche, than in supreficial mass culture overlaps. “As much as the blockbuster era seems like the natural state of things, it is mostly an artifact of late-twentieth century broadcast technologies. Before that most culture was local; in the future it will be affinity-based an massively parallel. Mass culture may fade, but common culture will not. We will still share our culture with others, but not with everyone.” Interesting to read, that in the seventies and eighties, in the childhood of Anderson the only places in America to go outside mainstream were library and comic book shop which was definitely other than products of broadcast mass culture. The traces go back to a part of culture, which was arrogantly called high culture before. I think that this culture was always persisted in a niche. Now my comment is that the rising niche culture is a great possibility to revitalize science and philosophy in the niches and offers new and powerful tools extending them to other niche cultures only by shared interest and not by the commands of an ever cloudy “you must read this” authority. You’d better popularise science et al. in a bottom-up way, not by a top-down effort. Web is clearly the future of these disciplines.
The official book launch party is today, on Wednesday, July 12th in New York City.

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Entry filed under: philosophy, science.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mike Levin of HitTail  |  July 12, 2006 at 4:27 pm

    > and not by the commands of an ever cloudy “you must read this” authority.

    And yet, blogging which is one of the best examples of long tail opinion makers, flock from one news story to the next. There are conflicting aspects of human nature at play here. Or one might say, the conflict between the global tribe that needs some common cultural currency, and the specialized (and most often virtual) tribes that cater precisely to your tastes, but otherwise can have an isolating effect.

    Reply
  • 2. bizbigyo  |  July 14, 2006 at 12:02 pm

    “Mass culture may fade, but common culture will not.”
    and Mike: “flock from one news story to the next.”

    if bloggers flock from one Zidane story to the other, or from one Da Vinci Code bit to the next, is it then mass culture within the bigger set of common culture? I feel it a bit glossy to say that we may need to bury mass culture. regarding the two hype news above I would say that we even more strongly share these things as common experience in a mass, but the niche goes for opining on them. Mike, is it close to your interpretation?

    popularising science is definitely a must, and now we can find niches for all levels on a very fine scale (total beginners, and kids to very respectful professors style). Attila, you are actually popoularising now, aren’t you? high culture is the wrong tail then.

    Reply
  • 3. Power Home Solar Review  |  January 27, 2010 at 6:31 am

    Great site, I will be back. Well done

    Reply

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