Great short essay on the Long Tail theory’s recent criticism.
As far as “blogs simply going unread”, that’s a gross characterization of the affair of online reading. Perhaps in the great tail of all those non-A-list blogs, it’s an infinitesimal patter in comparison. But a blog with a 1,000 readers is nothing to scoff about. Sharing an essay with 100 readers can be special. Even if it’s just friends and family, it’s an echo of a seed that can, at any point (as long as the lights are turned on), reverberate in a eternal fashion.
I think the main disappointment with the long-tail fans is the scale of what they thought they were being promised.
Too many people assumed that their blog could easily become the next Engadget or that they would become the next Kottke or Winer or Scoble or whatever overrated nobody that the blogosphere fawns over these days. They thought that they could quit their jobs and make thousands of dollars per month in ad revenue. This, of course, is unlikely.
The power of the long tail is that more people can be guaranteed to have an audience — not necessarily a large or monetizable one.