Articles of Interest

  • I highly recommend that anyone interested in digital distribution (and/or the long tail) read this NYTimes article, “Is Justin Timberlake a Product of Cumulative Advantage?” Quick summary: researchers at Columbia University have found that social influence systems (i.e. portals built around user rankings) tend to be highly unpredictable (as opposed to highly efficient at identifying the “best” content.) The researchers attribute this to the ultimately overwhelming impact of the few people who first encounter new content. In other words: social influence systems (like Digg.com) are not the stock market — you can’t count on an “objective and reasonable” valuation of all content, even over long periods of time. That said, it’s not clear this is a “problem”, though it is certainly relevant to the issues discussed in my recent long tail post.
  • Some good (hardware-related) news for Xbox last week. Walmart is getting behind HD-DVD (to the tune of 2M units) and “incremental shoppers” (i.e. those not interested in a Core or Premium 360) seem to be showing interest in the 360 Elite.
  • Nice post by Henry about what he calls “spreadable media” — basically, media designed to be circulated, sliced up, remixed, etc. Some good examples of do’s (i.e. Steven Colbert’s decision to make non-aired interview material available to fans online) and don’ts (Veronica Mars asks fans to make shorts promoting the show, but forbids them to use material from the show. Blech.) I really owe it to Henry for broadening my thinking about participatory culture; coincidentally, the subject of my last post.
  • In the “ironic timing” category, just as everyone is rushing to blame video games for the Virginia Tech tradgedy, the British Board of Film Classification has unveiled research indicating that violent games are less influential than their film/TV counterparts.

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