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Fri, 21 Jan 2005

“The Long Tail” and computer stuff


rames@kristal:~$ uptime
22:03  up 21 days,  1:49, 3 users, load averages: 0.84 0.61 0.72

… my Powebook 12” is sweetness. :^) $500 is a great price for the Mac Mini’s, too. I’m currently debating on getting a Network Attached Storage (NAS) drive for home (example), but why spend $200-300 on just a hard drive when I could spend $500 and get a whole ‘nother computer? Another possibility is to work on getting a Myth-Box going and use that as the network drive. What turns me off from that is I’ve never quite managed to get a home-built PC as quiet as I’d like for 24x7 living-room operation. Speccing out the Mac Mini with some “extra stuff” (wireless, upgraded HD, etc) brings the price from $500 to $800 — not too bad, but expensive enough to look harder at a cheaper specialized network drive (prices on those range from ~$150 - $300 depending on size, features, etc).

Followed a link from Gary’s blog talking about the economic ramifications of on-demand everything, called “The Long Tail”. The simplest definition is as follows:

“The Long Tail is the realization that the sum of many small markets is worth as much, if not more, than a few large markets.” (source)

…and the following quote from the original Wired article.

An even more striking example is the plight of Bollywood in America. Each year, India’s film industry puts out more than 800 feature films. There are an estimated 1.7 million Indians in the US. Yet the top-rated (according to Amazon’s Internet Movie Database) Hindi-language film, Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India, opened on just two screens, and it was one of only a handful of Indian films to get any US distribution at all. In the tyranny of physical space, an audience too thinly spread is the same as no audience at all.


My experience with this has to do with my preference for reading classic books rather than paying $8.99 for new paperbacks. With so much older stuff available for so cheap (half-price, project gutenberg, etc), why pay full price for new content when you’re not sure how good it’s going to be? I feel like I’m at the very tip of the “old-book iceburg”, focusing on the more popular books because that’s what I can find, and that’s what I know about.

Speaking on the tyranny of physical space (is that like the opposite of the four freedoms? :^), I’ve been ripping all my CD’s as soon as I buy them. Not recently since I don’t trust ripping on my Mac yet (I rip to OGG using abcde on my linux box), but I now have 2427, 7.4 days, 16.20 GB of music registered with iTunes on my laptop, not including another 5.2 GB of Soundtracks and Various Artists (I hate the way iTunes handles Artists in Various Artists … giving each individual artist top-level artists entries when they only have one song in them, maybe I need to twiddle with the “compilation” bits?) Anyway, back to The Tyranny of Physical Space, 21GB of CD’s turns out to be a lot of cubic feet worth of CD’s. I would never carry that much with me everywhere I go, back and forth to work every day, but digitizing them and sticking them on my laptop (or making them password protected / net-accessible) has freed me to listen to my music almost anywhere I want.

Same with photos / digital photos. I ~hate~ (not really) physical cameras and photos, mostly because I never spend the $10-20 to develop 36 prints from film. And when I do, I always get a photo CD to go along with it. Now that photo printers are comparable quality of photo prints, digital photos make even more sense since I can “make it physical” anytime I want or need to, and keep all the advantages of a digital archive of data rather than a physical archive.

…which explains why I’m looking at NAS drives. The long tail of my own media. :^)

08:42 CST | category / entries
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