"How endless choice is creating unlimited demand" is the description line on Anderson's forthcoming book (July), THE LONG TAIL. Thanks to plummeting costs of inventory and distribution on the Internet, best-sellers of anything (products, services, ideas) sell better than ever, but so does everything else, and that changes the world. Tiny-sellers to tiny niches now have aggregate power greater than the best-sellers that used to rule.
But what about old stuff? Google is a time machine, says Anderson. Old stuff, instead of vanishing the way it used to, now accumulates more links over time and thus more "authority." Search engines value relevance over freshness. The new is always provisional. The consequential old is perpetually on tap, its consequence always renegotiable. Internet time, long considered pathologically rapid, apparently contains its own cure.
"The Long Time Tail," Chris Anderson with Will Hearst, Palace of Fine Arts Theater (by the Exploratorium), San Francisco, 7pm, Friday, May 12. The lecture starts promptly at 7:30pm. Admission is free ($10 donation welcome as ever, not required).