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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Amateur Participation in the Long Tail

Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
10:08 pm

Amateur: “One who engages in a pursuit, study, science, or sport as a pastime rather than as a profession. From from Latin amator lover, from amare to love.”

As I reported last Friday, I am listening to Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail, on my iPod. It was interesting to hear Chris speak about the Wikipedia phenomena, where a vast group of amateurs created the largest encyclopedia in the world – truly a long-tail phenomena. He pointed out that Wikipedia content is “living” as opposed to the “static” content in a traditional encyclopedia, and that Wikipedia was produced by amateurs, rather than the professionals who created the encyclopedias we grew up with.

Living content produced by amateurs vs. static content produced by professionals. This sounds like the Participation Age to me.

The big question remains for Wikipedia, and many other cyber publishers of long tailed content produced by amateurs “for the love of it:” How do those who create and operate the infrastructure of the Participation Age monetize this phenomena so dominated by amateurs? Where is the economic value?

For Sun Micrsosystems, which has committed to a Long Tail open source software strategy and which produces infrastructure for Long Tail economy companies, economic prosperity depends on answering that question in new and innovative ways.

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