The Long Tail At MaisonBisson

The long tail.Content here at MaisonBisson isn’t well focused, but a few stories have come out winners in the Google sweepstakes of passing popular fancy. My story about a giant bear in Alaska was one such winner, but I’m happy to see a few others are also getting read. My stories about stainless steel, the heat output of Dell servers, and iTunes vs. Firewalls are obviously filling a need for technical information not readily available elsewhere. These stories on the “long tail” of my reading stats are what interest me most.

Seb at Many2Many talks about the difference between popularity recommendability in automated recommendation systems.

One problem you can often run into when using a recommender system is a bias towards popular items, which are not really that close to what you like but have the favor of many users because of their high visibility. […] The effect of designs like this, of course, is is to reinforce the “short head” (as opposed to the “long tail” ) by directing users towards the roads well traveled.

He leaves us with the following caution:

“this is popular” is not the same as “you’ll like it.”

Wired ran an interesting feature on the long tail back in October 2004. Their tagline: “Forget squeezing millions from a few megahits at the top of the charts. The future of entertainment is in the millions of niche markets at the shallow end of the bitstream.”

Their infographics do a great job to explain it too.

Anyway, the point here is that my next CMS has got to do a better job of making recommendations to readers. Tag support should help, but there’s obviously a lot more to it.

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