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Usually the first economic argument presented for the importance of the Long Tail is that the area underneath the tail is far greater than the area underneath the Short Head. And since that area represents people with whom the point on the curve communicates, the Long Tail represents a far greater economic opportunity. But, that argument thinks of the points as mini-broadcasters and markets as homogeneous aggregations of consumers. Such a simplistic vew misses the knotty nature of the Long Tail. The points are engaged with one another and with their readers (as Chris Anderson makes clear in his nuanced book, The Long Tail). Yes, Long Tails are conversations, too.

Britt Blaser puts this differently and quite nicely in his most recent post: The People Law trumps the Power Law. Here’s how it begins:

There are five principles I’m playing with lately:

1. The size of your audience confers limited power

2. A network’s value is the square of its nodes (Metcalfe)

3. Network nodes are significant only when they’re verbose

4. Most conversation is among nearby nodes

5. Only interactions count, and the richest count most

He goes on from there…and ends it with a nice motto:

Where there’s folk, there’s fire.

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