Friday, March 23, 2007

The Long Tail

In Chris Andreson's book, "The Long Tail", he does a great job of dissecting the rapid market shifts underway, given the emergence of the internet. However, his framework is weak in the definition of fact.

Mr. Anderson discusses in great detail the differences between the Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia. One of the core differences he defines between the two is that the Britannica is defined as "authoritative", due to its "scholarly" roots. And, Wikipedia is defined as "non-authoritative", given its roots within the collective wisdom of many.

However, scholarship itself is defined within the collective wisdom of many. Much of the work of any PhD student or practitioner is to scour the world to devour any and all previous work surrounding the topic at hand. They, like any human, collect available information, digest it and rely upon it. How many times in our recent history have we seen "authoritative" thinking debunct?

The fact that our culture has defined "scholars"as more authoritative becomes less relevant as the market shifts, as defined by Anderson's framework, as more and more people are able to participate in the definition of fact.

Fact is truly a dynamic being. It is the result of the most up-to-date information available. Given the opportunity to assimilate new information from any human on the planet, as Wikipedia is fast enabling, the resulting fact will undoubtedly continue to evolve, just as it has since the beginning of time...