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Old Hack

I see that Time magazine has named the person of the year as 'you' - meaning each and every one of us.

We are empowered by the net. Through the expansion of the 'long tail' we now define much of the news and political agenda for ourselves - rather than permitting a few elite Journalists and Politicians to do it all for us. A bit too idealistic perhaps, the 'head' is still vastly influential but increasingly cannot, dare not, ignore the 'long tail'.

As for political parties - who really calls the shots? We the grassroots who number in the many thousands or 100 men (and the odd woman) in Westminster?

Stephen B

Not wishing to detract from Mr Anderson's book sales but the original long-ish article he wrote on the Long tail can be found here.

Graeme Archer

The interesting point about all three of these zeitgeist definers is that they are all examples of the Central Limit Theorem, a fundamental result from probability. Most obviously the "wisdom of the crowds" can be restated - less sexily - as "the average result will be correct most often so long as the sample size is big enough", while the "long tail", in Tim's explanation, isn't (as I had thought) about heavy-tailed distributions or extreme-value theory, and yet is exactly that - the sum of the individual "hits" at the infimum-plus space in the set of sizes describing media outlets is beginning to add up to something quantitatively similar to the supremum.

(Imagine an x-axis describing "size of media operation" with a y-axis describing "Probability of being read". At the left hand size of the x-axis, near zero, you find things like my blog (read by my family and the cat), at its right hand side you find the BBC. At the moment the curve over this space clutches zero on the y axis and then takes off as you approach the BBC. I think what Tim's saying is that the zero-clutching behaviour will lighten up soon).

Interesting. What will happen when more people are getting information from "blog" (all blogs combined) than from the BBC? Will the BBC react? In sufficient time? Wouldn't it be glorious if we smashed the BBC not by state fiat, but just by driving it into irrelevance through a market-based system like the blogosphere?

Deputy Editor

I wouldn't have guessed that you were a statistician Graeme!

Patsy Sergeant

I wish I could understand (if I was meant to) what you were saying in the first part of your post, Graeme, BUT I wholly and entirely agree with what you said in your last paragraph!!

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