John Robb at Global Guerrillas wrote about the “dark side” of the long tail in a March 18 post to his blog. It’s a touchy one, so I’d better explain Robb’s point in his own words:
The concept of the Long Tail is that globalization, new tools of production, and the Internet have made it possible to radically increase the supply and demand of niche products (in certain product categories).
Traditionally, warfare (the ability to change society through violence) has been limited to nation-states (except in rare cases). States had a monopoly on violence. The result was a limited, truncated distribution of violence (a power law).
He notes that the same technologies that allow previously unknown writers and musicians to sell well on the internet are also allowing “niche producers of violence” to flourish. The result is a fast growing supply and demand for violence.
Big concepts (such as a struggle between Islam and the US), not championed by states, have supercharged niche suppliers like al Qaeda and its clones. In some cases, the niche producer creates its own demand (see Transnational Gangs) or through its activites create demand for other niche producers (see Primary Loyalties).
He’s even got a powerpoint to make it clear.