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January 21, 2008



Calacanis's buddy Jarvis delted my comment.

WTF. Why hasn't Google, Jimbo, or Jarvis call Jason out? He hires 60 fulltime people and 400 freelancers making slave wages to spam and pump all the social networks and pollute Google with Mahalo links! Jason requires all the guides to spam to inflate numbers. 400 people are doing damage! Jason did this with WeBlogsInc same story! Netscape failed and all those AOL blogs are dead. Pump and dump GOogle will take anyones money why doesn't anyone call Jason out?? Some journalism please!

João Luís Almeida Machado

Down here in Brazil we are beginning to live the long tail effect. It is soon to evaluate it's effects but since brazilian government started a program of social help that managed to allow people to live in better conditions and to have more money, the increase on sales became a reality. Last Christmas we had an expressive growth on internet sales and it is representative that through web people are selling almost everything from popular hits on TV, Radio and Books to classical tunes, movies and essays...

Kevin Marks

"Fat tail" and "Long Tail" mean the same thing. What Jason Calacanis is aiming for is the "fat head". (I called it the big head before).


Yeah, when I first read this, it sounded like Jason was talking about power curves with different slopes, but on rereading it, it sounds more like he's just talking about different sections of the same power curve - the "fat head", the middle section, the tail section.

I think he's talking about the ability or desire of different groups to extract some benefit from those particular sections of the curve. This is a second hand account, so who knows how well he expressed it, but it's not clearly expressed here.

It is certainly true that advertisers are still interested in the "fat head", as they always have been. It's also true that it requires computing power or "algorithms" to exploit the long tail.

The only thing new here is the statement that the "middle tail is social", which I'm not sure I agree with, as stated (second hand).

The whole damn thing is social.


I prefer the terms "Short Head", "Fat Middle" and "Long Tail". So rewrite the sentence as "the Short Head will be human, the Fat Middle social, the Long Tail algorithmic" and I think it makes more sense.

And I find the Fat Middle most interesting because that's where all the volatility is as players constantly bubble up from the long tail, fade into it from the short head and fail back into the tail.

Social fits in the Fat Middle. That's where Last.fm, Librarything, GoodRead, Twitter live. The Long Tail is algorithmic. But is the Short Head really human? Surely it's actually Corporate.


Usual disclaimers about self-promotion, but on "that single sentence is worth another book. I won't write it, but I'll bet someone else does", I believe I more or less have already. In Net, Blogs and Rock'n'Roll: How Digital Discovery Works and What it Means for Consumers, Creators and Culture, I cover the parts played in discovery by human gatekeepers/guides, social networks and recommender systems... and, to pick up on Julian's point about the head being Corporate, the role of viral promotions and the questionable ethics of blog marketing.

I know it would have been better if anyone else other than me had posted this, but I couldn't rely on them to ;-)


Hopefully, I'm not abusing the metaphors here but...

It seems to me that the algorithm can run throughout the fat and the middle and add value to both - not just the longtail where the algorithm makes sense due to scale.

preetam mukherjee

I was thinking about the tail on new years' eve(!!) and felt like I had to talk about how slow we've been to acknowledge it(and more importantly, how we(worthy biz folk) have failed to wag it to good effect.)
The post in question- http://weareindia.blogspot.com/2008/01/07.html

To an extent, I agree with Jason Calacanis, if he implied that human='direct audiences', social='syndication and group audiences' and algorithmic='fragmented mass audiences'.

I bring this up because human:social:algorithmic :: fat:medium:long is real dandy to talk about, but we're still doing qualitative analysis on a concept, when we should have already moved on long ago.....to thinking about a collective exploitation of the concept.

Collective exploitation would involve each one of us(worthy biz folk) thinking deep and hard about how fat(or thin) OUR long(or medium) tails are. Because the economics of 'the head' bears little resemblance to that of 'the tail'. And because my tail differs from yours.
And the head is a bloody slow mover..

So until we can actually figure out those equations, we're going to be talking endlessly about long algorithms that use social mediums to create fat humans.
(Oops. Wrong equation again.)

My point is that it's gotten to become beer #6 banter for me and my buddies, and we're surprised there isn't much attention paid to fine gentlemen like these who're telling us that we need to stop the soft biz model talk and start talking hard economics.

All due respect, of course. ;)

Transplanted Lawyer

Someone did write that book. It's called The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell.


Social middle? Think LinkedIn - 'maybe somebody in my network knows.' People are building their networks for the express purpose of tapping into areas further into the belly of the curve.

Paul Jacobson

I'm luvin The Long Tail! It's a great source of niches; and it fits well with other relevant books such as Johnson's Emergence and Gladwell's The Tipping Point. But as Einstein said: "Things should be made simple; but not THAT simple". So I have a problem with Heads and Middles and Tails in a static arrangement. As Duncan J. Watts describes in his academic masterpiece Six Degrees, the Power Curve is still mystifying because we have only reached the end of the beginning.



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The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Notes and sources for the book

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