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August 22, 2006


David Armstrong

I'm writing my thesis on the impact of capitalism and democracy on the next generation and have proposed that through natural genetic engineering, improved parenting and open access to capitalism (through democracy) that we can create a dramatic shift in our world. This book will no doubt help communicate a very difficult, controversial approach as our historical efforts have been misaligned. Thanks. Purchased.

Meme Momentum

Just building up some good old meme momentum.


I agree. I just read the book last year, and it was one of the most inspiring things I have come across in a long time. Gave me a new framework to look at many aspects of the world that seemed completely random before.

kid mercury

out of control is good, but IMO kelly's new rules for the new economy is better. i consider it gospel.

Shaum Bubblewink

In the Comoros, I am certainly biggest fan. I wrote long tail article about you. Well done, will buy machine biology book.

All the best,


you can actually read the whole book on KK's website.He is so kind as to paste the whole book on it for every interested reader to enjoy.Perhaps he got the "communal" nature of social insects(which are "lifelike",living,breathing,are irrufutably among the BORN) and exported it to the MADE sphere of human artifice,which in this case is Blogsphere and any literary properties thereof.
Or it's just that he is magnanimous in nature?
anyway,great book.Though if it's the smartest book of last decade is debatable.

Mike Perry

What do you get when you try to combine this trio of evolution, democracy, capitalism? Not much.

Evolution + Capitalism => Social Darwinism, which in practice means a might equals right economy run by the few who are fittest to adapt to change--the Microsofts and Googles. And that means a market that is in the end blind to all human values but consumer demand. If somewhere down the tail there's a market for child porn and snuff videos, then it must be fulfilled.

And yes, the ruthless pursuit of efficiency was dear to the heart of capitalism long before Darwin raised the death of the unfit to near-divine status. But other social values and other principles, typically religious in origin, provided a counterweight to Capitalism's worship of efficiency. Evolution not only doesn't provide a counterweight to Capitalism's ills, it accenutates them. That's why the late nineteenth century 'robber barons' loved evolution and bankrolled eugenics.

Is democracy the counterweight? Not really.

Evolution + Democracy => Disaster, because the future in an evolutionary sense (and often in a capitalist sense) always starts out with a minority, a few mutants who can easily be outvoted. The People can, through their 'reactionary' vote, say no to what evolution and capitalism says must be, and that, in the value system above, is disaster.

Note that, as the article above noted, each of the three has places in the world where, to all appearances, they're not popular among the majority. If you want evolution to rule, then you must censor intelligent design proponents not just in the US, but in much of the world. (The French press has reported that ID is popular among school kids there.) If you want capitalism to reign, then you must talk up the self-destructive nature of socialism, whether true or not, and glory in Europe's self-destruction.

In short, if you want evolution or socialism to rule, democracy will have to be tossed out or attacked. The great mass of people cannot be allowed to make choices that reject evolution and capitalism as interpreted by the chosen few.

The ultimate problem is that there are other values that have no part in a scheme obsession with economic growth. Ancient Israel had small-scale capitalism, but it also banned an obsessive with efficiency. Land owners were forbidden from going over their fields a second time, collecting up the grain that had fallen. That was for the landless. And in New Testament times, Jesus would warn that people would be judged by how they treated the "least of these," those evolution would toss into history's dustbin.

So don't be so smug in holding to these three ideas. The first two are not only inherently hostile to the third, they're hostile to the things that make us most human, things that don't compute in the bean-counting world of fitness and efficiency.

--Michael W. Perry, Seattle, Editor of Eugenics and Other Evils


Thanks. I bought it again :)
Do not like to have a guru but have to admit: Kevin is the guru.

Christine Sander

Thanks for this review and bringing this book to attention. 'There is no central keeper of knowledge in a network'...well taken, but is this the point? How about more knowledge... not about technology, marketing, how to gain success..., but how we came to be where we are... now, and with quickly doubling numbers... Greetings, Christine

Noric Dilanchian

I've also just done a book review. In my case it was 10 years after the book's publication. As an IT, IP and entertainment industry lawyer, it is very useful for me to compare The Long Tail theory against the "hit industry" typology of the American academic and author, David A. Aaker. Aaker's book was published in 1996 and is titled 'Developing Business Strategies'. It's now in its 6th edition. I find your theory, and Aaker's typology, both profoundingly interesting, and useful to compare. My firm's "lightbulb" blog contains the post ("The Long Tail versus the Hit Industry Typology") at: https://www.dilanchian.com.au

Irene Grumman

Thanks for the review and referral. You gave a context that helps me make more sense of cultural changes. I'm working my fascinated way through the only copy of "Out of Control" owned by the San Diego Public Library. The library does have seven copies of "The Long Tail" on order. I look forward to NextFest and plan to attend your talk at the Library.

Alex Bukinis

"They're not predictable and controllable--they're inherently out of control." - think of this, this is pretty much true and reality of the day, I work with computers every day, and the amount of "guess work" in ever-increasing, it is like descretion of the machine executing the comand becomes so much a part of computer administration, that you have to litterally get used to the machine, just knowing is not enough


I could very well be missing something but from my perspective it seems hard to justify the claim that democracy works. Aside from opinions about the current state of affairs in the US I'm aware of many theoretical difficulties.

All voting schemes are likely to produce anomalous results, where the person that most people wanted to win loses, for example. The "one person, one vote" method you mention in your review being the worst. I've read that mathematicians prefer to use different systems, like the Condorcet method, which involves allowing each voter a number of votes or points to be distributed among candidates to rank them. This provides winners who are more acceptable to more of the voters.

This may to interest you, because it shows how voting can become more effective the more it mimics the behavior of the market. I recall reading somewhere that voting may have been an effort to arrange politics along the lines of the market in the first place.

When the number of voters becomes very large though shouldn't the problem of rational ignorance become a major difficulty? I allude to the problem that since the choice of an individual voter is unlikely to have a significant effect on the outcome of an election it is not in their interest to learn in detail about the effects. This is in contrast to the market where an individual usually has full control over their selection and bears the benefits and negative consequences personally.

The flip side of rational ignorance is that a minority that stands to benefit from a regulation or subsidy at a tiny cost to each person in a district has the motivation to campaign, even at great expense, while the majority stands to gain nothing by the effort of campaigning and lose little should a regulation, tariff or tax be enacted. This would seem to imply that the incentive is rarely going to be found to be to benefiting the people and there would tend to be an increase in the size of government and some living at the expense of others.

In the market, or in evolution, we find that the success of an organism is tied to its method of survival, yet in politics failure is often seen as a legitimate argument for increasing budgets and expanding powers. If a politician is good at getting elected, they don't have to be good at anything else. We are all very familiar with politicians who are not good at telling the truth, making moral decisions, upholding the constitution, protecting the country from attack etc...

Supposedly votes are going to measure satisfaction with the incumbent and peacefully remove them from power if they fail. But government, like any other organization really survives based on the stream of revenue it can consume, the number of people it can pay, feed, and keep on staff looking for ways to protect their jobs, justify their salary and expand their power.

To bring the current US situation back into the discussion it also puzzles me that you keep telling us that people have diverse tastes and that blockbusters and one size fits all solutions are fading away everywhere that there is not a protective cartel or manipulation of the market. In fact, you even seem to be telling us that tactics for manipulating the market are failing, and yet we appear to have only two viable political parties from coast to coast. While in Europe every country has several parties, some big tent coalitions, some ideological, religious, ethnic and some single issue parties. I'm curious what your analytical tools make of that fact.

Where is the long tail of politics? What will the future long tail of government look like?

gift ideas

Thanks for this. I've followed Kevin Kelly for a while now, having read "Out of Control," a book which closely follows these 9 principles. I had no clue he was a believer. What a fascinating testimony.

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The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Notes and sources for the book

FREE was available in all digital forms--ebook, web book, and audiobook--for free shortly after the hardcover was published on July 7th. The ebook and web book were free for a limited time and limited to certain geographic regions as determined by each national publisher; the unabridged MP3 audiobook (get zip file here) will remain free forever, available in all regions.

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