Over at Read/Write Web, Alex Iskold looks at the Long Tail phenomenon and concludes that while Chris Anderson is correct when he argues that there is money to be made on the Long Tail (by aggregrators and Long Tail oriented retail giants like Amazon), there is no money to be made in the Long Tail itself.
In the Guardian, Nicholas Carr suggests that "The net is being carved up into information plantations ." He observes that more and more Google searches are returning less and less sites—"if you Google any person, place or thing today, you're almost guaranteed to find Wikipedia at or near the top of the list of recommended pages"—and that traffic is increasingly consolidating in sites like Myspace. Carr's article is based on "The Shrinking Long Tail " by Richard MacManus at Read/WriteWeb. Indeed, this is a danger to the Long Tail, that no matter how much we obsessively fetishize our micro-cluster of consumption, for the most part, we all do the same things, or at least similar things.
On the other hand, does this mean we should lament the demise of the Long Tail? By no means. Rather, it suggests that yet again, we've been too simplistic in valorizing the meshwork over the hierarchy, something that Manuel de Landa so aptly cautioned we should not do in the introduction to his 1,000 Years of Nonlinear History. Since that is not available on the Internet, if you don't have it handy, you might find his piece on Meshworks, Hierarchies, and Interfaces worth a read. I'll cite the last few lines to tempt you:
Hence, demonizing centralization and glorifying decentralization as the solution to all our problems would be wrong. An open and experimental attitude towards the question of different hybrids and mixtures is what the complexity of reality itself seems to call for. To paraphrase Deleuze and Guattari, never believe that a meshwork will suffice to save us.
Time to work this into the network culture essay more directly, I suspect.