Thursday, July 13, 2006

The dumb long tail?

Jonathan Rowe is less than impressed at the plaudits being dished out for Chris Anderson's new book The Long Tail.

"The long tail, Anderson writes, reflects new technology that can “tap the distributed intelligence of millions of consumers to match people with the stuff that suits them best.”

Intelligence? That’s market orthodoxy with a techno-futurist spin. Everything we do as consumers is a "market choice", and therefore by definition intelligent and good. There’s another possibility, which is that the market can be as dumb as we humans who comprise it; and therefore technology that provides greater range for market selections also provides greater range for this dumbness as well.

That stupidity includes the capacity to destroy that which ultimately sustains us and which we ultimately hold most dear. The long tail sounds to me like just another version of the old tale, which is the effort to get people to define themselves as consumers, and to seek happiness in things they buy.

Hey, I’m glad I’m not stuck in Blockbuster’s mass drek. But I’m even gladder there’s a revival of public spaces and the like, so I can be around other people and not have to buy anything at all. That's the tail that's really new, and needs to be told."

No comments: