Sunday, September 03, 2006

Context, not content, is king in a world of infinite choice

The book The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More discusses how we've been conditioned to focus on a few best selling items, the Top 40 playlist on the radio or the New York Times Bestsellers, because physical shelf space is scarce and physical retail business models are based on maximizing the value of that shelf space.

In a digitally connected world, it's no more expensive to display a product that rarely sells than it is to display a bestseller. Most of things in the world aren't valuable to us, but buried in the blizzard are a few diamonds. The trick is that what each of us defines as diamonds is different. Where there is an overabundance of choices, what's really valuable is a filter that helps us find what we want when we want it.

The author notes halfway through the book:
In a world of infinite choice, context--not content--is king.
Hmmm... Then he notes that
American Airlines made more money from its Sabre electronic reservation system than the entire airline industry made collectively charging people money to ride on planes.

Baby Bells were bringing in more profits from their yellow pages than from their inherited monopolies.
Hmmm... There's a business model for us here somewhere.


Evan said...

I haven't heard much about it recently, but Yahoo was talking a lot about their strategy for on-demand television and supplying more context and filtering to a television audience with infinite choices.

I can hardly wait to see how truly on-demand television will work--when I can watch any show from any year at any time. But how do I choose between the 3rd episode from the second season of Northern Exposure or the 12th episode from the 5th season of MacGyver? There's some comfort in having a limited TV menu.

My prediction: More ADHD and "adult ADD" in the future.

Bob Dunn said...

And, beyond context, is intention. As with understanding a conversation fully, it is not enough to know what is being said along with understanding the metaphors that are being used (or abused). On also needs to know where the conversation is headed and why (presuming that the speakers know this first).

Consequently, the "long tail" value and dynamics will shift as the intention/purpose shifts.

So, in the world of "enjoying listening" as the goal, a mar-free recording is all that is needed. In the world of "clollectibles", there are many more factors that come into play (pun intended).