The Long Tail

The Long Tail is a phenomenon that is reshaping the landscape of commerce - what influence could it have on eParticipation?

Wired editor, Chris Anderson, unleashed a whirlwind of discussion when his article "The Long Tail" appeared in the October 2004 issue of Wired. He had found a useful way of getting to grips with just how digital technologies can shift the landscape, particular for commerce.

He points out that half of the iTunes or Amazons sales are made bymedia that hasn't made it into the stores. This is the Long Tail, a newmarket in times when production and storage space are close to free.

Can we transfer this concept, and what would that mean on our way from traditional civic engagement to online participation?

Jason Kitcat has spend some thoughts on this on his blog:

The reality obviously isn't that a nation isn't at one level oranother. Different people participate at different levels - MPs do havefairly direct control while many only occasionally partake in theone-way processes at the bottom of the pile. A small number of peoplehave large amounts of influence and a huge number of people holdmassively diverse levels of power. In other words, ff we lay thiscontinuum of participants on its side we have a long tail-type graph.Aha!

The Long Tail of Power

He raises concerns about limited attention spans of decision makers too, that in my eyes are criticial to participatory approaches, that are not directly tied into the decision making process.

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