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Why Chris Anderson’s “Long Tail” theory might be all wrong July 14, 2008

Posted by Ana Bird in art, commerce, film, music, tech.
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From: Slate

By Farhad Manjoo

The Long TailNearly four years ago, first in a widely cited articleand later in a best-selling book, Chris Anderson posited that the Internet, with its vast inventories of books, albums, and movies, would liberate the world from blockbuster schlock. Anderson, the editor ofWired, labeled his concept “the Long Tail,” after the shape our digital desires leave on a graph: When we buy stuff online, we can reach beyond big hits and into the “tail” of the demand curve, where we’re free to indulge our most obscure passions. Anderson argued that serving our niche interests could also make for booming Web businesses. This was the thrill of the Long Tail—it seemed to offer a way for art and commerce to thrive side-by-side.

Now, just in time for The Long Tail‘s paperback release, the book has fallen under critical scrutiny. Anita Elberse, a marketing professor at the Harvard Business School, recently examined several years’ worth of American movie- and music-sales data. The entertainment business has indeed seen its inventory shifting toward a Long Tail curve, Elberse writes in the Harvard Business Review. The shift is slight, however, and Anderson’s Long Tail is also “extremely flat.”

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Marc Hauser + Errol Morris June 11, 2008

Posted by Ana Bird in art, film, politics, science.
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The evolutionary psychologist and the documentary filmmaker discuss game theory, Stanley Milgram, and whether science can make us better people.

From: Seed Magazine

Errol Morris Credit: Julian Dufort

Documentary filmmaker Errol Morris has made a career of trafficking in moral ambiguity and complexity. Evolutionary psychologist Marc Hauser has pioneered research into the idea of a universal morality grounded in biology. Hauser believes humans possess a moral grammar; Morris isn’t so sure. The two met when Morris asked Hauser to be part of his short film for the 2007 Oscars. They kept in touch, exchanged ideas, and Hauser attended an early screening of Standard Operating Procedure, Morris’s film about the abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib. Recently in Boston they debated game theory, Stanley Milgram, and whether science can make us better people.

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