Class reflection #3

16 07 2008

On July 14, our guest speaker, T.A. McCann, spoke about Internet entrepreneurship and The Long Tail. He mentioned, but didn’t expand upon, “mashups.” These seem to be totally relevant to the Long Tail because they take advantage of Long Tail economy. The tools of production and distribution of APIs (Application Program Interfaces) have been democratized so that companies and even individuals can create and share new “mashup” programs with relative ease. Mashup programs aren’t typically mainstream because they are created to serve niche audiences (@answerme helps track questions you ask on Twitter; QuikMap allows you to draw on Google Maps.) so they also contribute to extending the Long Tail. Mashups are one of the only examples of goods I can think of that exclusively feed from and contribute to the Tail without disrupting the overall market shape.

Later in class, Kathy broke us up into small groups to discuss questions based on The Long Tail. My group addressed a question related to the scarcity of time: “Moving down the Tail takes time and time is the one thing that can’t be changed. In to find value in the Tail, the time it takes to navigate through the Tail must be close to zero… What can be done to minimize the time barrier of the Tail?” The group identified filters as the solution to minimizing time. Our conversation evolved into talking about types of filters – program-based (algorithms) and social (recommendations). We talked about how social filters can be beneficial because people’s recommendations are based on emotional responses, but how they also have limits because people’s opinions are imperfect and their emotional responses may differ greatly from your own. We identified program-based filters as safe, but not necessarily as effective because they are based on a finite set of qualifications.

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One response

21 07 2008
kegill

Paolo — let’s talk more about MashUps as we explore Benkler.

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