Posts Tagged ‘LongTail’

"A country bumpkin approach to slinging generalizations around"

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Anderson plagiarism

WiReD magazine Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson has copped to lifting chunks of material for his second book Free from Wikipedia and other sources without credit. But it could be about to get a lot worse.

In addition to the Wikipedia cut’n’pastes, Anderson appears to have lifted passages from several other texts too. And in a quite surreal twist, we discover that the Long Tail author had left a hard drive backup wide open and unsecured for Google to index, then accused one of his accusers of “hacking”.

Does the WiReD editor and New Economy guru need basic lessons in how to use a computer?

Waldo Jaquith of Virginia Quarterly Review unearthed a dozen suspect passages after what he called “a cursory investigation”, and posted his findings here on Tuesday. Wikipedia entries for ‘There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free Lunch’, ‘Learning Curve’ and ‘Usury’ had been pasted into Anderson’s book.

In addition to Wikipedia citations, which Anderson reproduced with the errors intact (oops), Jacquith suggests he also lifted from an essay and a recent book. Presented with the evidence, Anderson blamed haste and (curiously) not being able to decide on a presentation format for citations, for his decision to omit the citations altogether. Other examples were “writethroughs”, he said.

Then lit blogger Edward Champion documented several more examples which he says show

“a troubling habit of mentioning a book or an author and using this as an excuse to reproduce the content with very few changes — in some cases, nearly verbatim.”

Champion’s examples of churnalism include blog posts, a corporate websites and (again) Wikipedia.
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P2P study: crackdown is bad for business

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

A study of P2P music exchanges to be revealed this week suggests that the ailing music business is shunning a lucrative lifeline by refusing to license the activity for money.

Entitled “The Long Tail of P2P”, the study by Will Page of performing rights society PRS For Music and Eric Garland of P2P research outfit Big Champagne will be aired at The Great Escape music convention tomorrow. It’s a follow-up to Page’s study last year which helped debunk the myth of the “Long Tail”. Page examined song purchases at a large online digital retail store, which showed that out of an inventory of 13 million songs, 10 million had never been downloaded, even once. It suggested that the idea proposed by WiReD magazine editor Chris Anderson, who in 2004 urged that the future of business was digital retailers carrying larger inventories of slow-selling items was a Utopian fantasy.

The P2P networks are harder to quantify, but apparently show a similar pattern, where most of the action – and profit – is in the ‘head’. Each Top 100 CD on on PirateBay averaged 58,000 downloads a week, for example. Lady GaGa’s The Fame was downloaded 388,000 times in a week from PirateBay alone. Like its predecessor, the new study also finds that downloads follow a log-normal, rather a Pareto (or “power curve”) distribution as Anderson envisaged. The WiReD man had guessed the shape of the internet – and picked the wrong shape.

Read more at The Register.

Anderson downgrades Long Tail to Chocolate Teapot status

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Long Tail

“The end came quickly,” as authors of morbid weepies like to say. On Monday WiReD magazine editor Chris Anderson effectively admitted game over for his “Long Tail”, the idea he’s been dragging so lucratively around the conference circuit for the past four years. In as many words, he downgraded it from “the future of business” to something that’s, er, not very helpful for your business at all.

“I’ll end by conceding a point: It’s hard to make money in the Tail,” Anderson wrote. “The revenues are disproportionately in the Head. Perhaps that will never change.”

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The Long Tail can seriously damage your business

Friday, November 7th, 2008

The most comprehensive empirical study of digital music sales ever conducted has some bad news for Californian technology utopians. Since 2004, WiReD magazine editor Chris Anderson has been hawking his “Long Tail” proposition around the world: blockbusters will matter less, and businesses will “sell less of more”. The graph has become iconic – a kind of ‘Hockey Stick’ for Web 2.0 – with the author applying his message to many different business sectors. Alas, following the WiReD Way of Business as a matter of faith could be catastrophic for your business and investment decisions.

Long Tail
Anderson bet that the orange portion – the “Tail” – has more value than the red portion – the “Head”. But it doesn’t.

Examining tens of millions of transactions from a large digital music provider, economist Will Page with Mblox founder Andrew Bud and Page’s colleague Gary Eggleton, looked to see how large and valuable the “Tail” of digital music may be. They produced a spreadsheet with 1.5 million rows – so large, in fact, that it required a special upgrade to their Excel software (and more RAM) – and the three revealed their work at the Telco 2.0 conference this week.

They discovered that instead of following a Pareto or “power law” curve, as Anderson suggested, digital song sales follow a classic Log Normal distribution. 80 per cent of the digital inventory sold no copies at all – and the ‘head’ was far more concentrated than the economists expected.

“Is the ‘future of business’ really selling more of less?” asks Page. “Absolutely not. If you had Top of the Pops now, you’d feature the Top 14, not Top 40.”

As Andrew Bud explains:

“The Long Tail’s argument is that the pattern of consumption for media is bent out of shape by the limits of the shops selling them. Digital media lets the nature of people’s demand flow free. Well, we now know what the shape of that demand curve looks like.”

Bud told the conference that the basic shape of consumer demand for digital music clearly fits the Log Normal distribution, “with eye-watering accuracy”. That’s no surprise, he says, because so many sales curves he’s seen over the past ten years follow this distribution.

“Now we’ve seen what happens when tens of millions of choices are thrown in the air and people can go pick them up. What was astounding was the degree of inequality between the head and the tail – by a factor of three. It’s specifically the Log Normal shape that leads to a rather poverty stricken Tail.

“There are Tails where the Tail lives as a kind of welfare state. Not this one. You starve in this Tail.”

Digital sales follow a Log Normal distribution
Brown’s 1956 lognormal curve fits digital sales data much better than “The Long Tail”

This really isn’t the upbeat fairy tale message Anderson has spent four years selling on the conference circuit.

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Universal exec – say goodbye to the old record co.

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

An RIAA board member and executive from the world’s biggest record company has said the old way of doing business has gone forever now.

Larry Kenswil, president of Universal Music Group’s eLabs, might not speak for all of Universal Music, but he does speak for an important part of it. Kenswil today said labels could no longer “count units” but had to license rights.

The eLabs chief’s comments caused a few jaws to drop here in Cannes, but it’s part of a sea change in strategy at UMG. The DRM gurus have departed – Barney Wragg left Universal last summer – and Universal is striking deals with anyryone who can hold a pen and scrawl an X. Towards the end of 2006, MySpace, YouTube and Microsoft all agreed to pay Universal for rights to their catalog – material crucial to the success of their products or services.

“We can’t think of it as counting unit sales anymore,” said Kenswil. “We have to license … and think like the publishers.”

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Joost – the new, new TV thing

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

Joost's EPG

One of the most talked-about startups came out of the shadows this week, as The Venice Project revealed itself to the world as Joost. The company invited The Reg to its West End offices for a demonstration and a chat with CEO Fredrik de Wahl.

Joost is an interactive, IP-based TV software system from the people who brought you Kazaa and Skype, Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, considerably richer after the $2.6bn purchase of the telephony start-up by eBay.

The parallels with the founders’ earlier projects are hard to miss. Joost is P2P PC software; it’s free to download and use and requires no special hardware; it’s based on proprietary software; and the technology is cooler than the business case.

The most striking similarity, however, is that it challenges incumbents’ delivery systems. What Kazaa did to music distribution and Skype did to telephony, Joost wants to do for TV.
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