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Buzzwords: Long Tail and Ecosystem

April 14th, 2005 · No Comments

Dan Farber writes about a couple buzzwords that he heard discussed at PC Forum:

[Chris Anderson]…had a great insight into how to represent supply and demand and the effect of low cost storage and distribution in the Internet age. The longtail captures a key phenomenon enabled by the Internet that is the equivalent to the impact of the transportation system in the mid-20th century. The ability to expose and access all forms of data in a friction-free, low-cost manner via the Internet permanently alters hierarchies that ruled over the last millennium.

If you have a business plan, you will need to consider the implications of the longtail. If you don’t know how to surf the longtail, in a world in which exabytes of data (content, opportunity, chaos) are forming each month, you won’t get to first base.

In a lesser fashion, ecosystem pervaded the PC Forum vocabulary. Wikipedia defines an ecosystem as “a naturally occuring assemblage of organisms (plant, animal and other living organisms – also referred as biocenose) living together with their environment (or biotope), functioning as a unit of sorts.”

It’s a high-value concept as applied to cyberspace–having an ecosystem means leveraging a community of users, partners, suppliers, developers or whatever to create a network effect (another buzzword). The best examples of technology-focused ecosystems are the services that establish strong bonds between themselves and users and foster strong bonds among the user community itself. Think eBay, Linux (open source), Yahoo/Google/MSN, and Window with its developers and OEMs. Business and technology ecosystems, like their biological counterparts, can be fragile. Changing the climate, introducing new elements, pissing off the community can lead to a rapid decay–and to new ecosystems that respond better the multiple inputs and nuance of the community, which is social and organic, built on values like trust and transparency.

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