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August 14, 2006



Hmmm - we had the plumbers at the house today and I had a copy of The Long Tail (your book - not the shirt catalog) lying around in the room in which they were working (not the bathroom). I wonder if they misunderstood what it was about?

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The article was sincere, informative and provided some of the best links I’ve seen.
I enjoyed reading it.

The main theme surrounding the article seemed to be the idea of “cult”. Such enthusiasm for a product, artist or activity is the driving force of culture… and therefore marketing.

The value of “Participatory design” depends obviously on the participants.
The most obvious application is in making changes to existing products that have already provoked interest.

Do enthusiasts always make useful participants?

Enthusiasts tend to latch on to what they fell in love with (which is why they are enthusiastic). This makes it more difficult for a company to continue to evolve. There is a danger of mistaking enthusiasts for paying customers and making bad investments.

But what about those products that no one is enthusiastic about?
Was there much activity in dust bin design before Karim Rashid made it so fashionable? Does the resultant enthusiasm to “be a famous designer” provide Umbra with useful, marketable concepts or merely fill their mailroom with proposals for more of the same?
How does this influence their ability to sort good from bad?

I agree that this activity does not threaten professional designers; in fact such enthusiasm may even pave the way for professional designers to interact with companies.
I recently visited the On-Star website to submit an idea (a freebie) and was impressed by the system they have in place.

This brings us back to the internet and the affect it has on design. Without a doubt forums like this one are the best example.

Thanks to Core77 and Coroflot for everything they’ve done for the global design community.

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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.

Order the hardcover now!