Archive for July, 2008

Geeks vs. Jocks

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

One of my posts from April, “Sexism and Misogyny in Geek Culture,” saw some really long and detailed comments a few weeks back. (If it’s a topic that interests you, I encourage you to go check it out.) I had to step away from blogging for a while to focus my work efforts elsewhere—and I’ll probably have to step away for another few weeks as I prepare to move from Philadelphia to Boston—but for now, I wanted to pull out one particular tangent that developed in the course of that aforementioned discussion. Specifically, I had brought up the long-standing hostility and resentment toward male athletes among geeks, implying at the time that it might be comparable to the negative attitudes exhibited by some geeks toward women.

In that discussion, Jordan commented that he doesn’t see geeks harassing jocks online as much as he sees them harassing women, and Aenna noted that geeks’ harassment of jocks seems to be mostly in the form of weak, homophobic insults. I’ve actually noticed much more pervasive, vitriolic, and even creatively involved responses, though. I wanted to make note of a couple examples and invite others to chime in with their own thoughts on the matter as well. I sat on this post for several days as I worked on other things, but now, with the release of Joss Whedon’s geeky supervillain musical, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, it seemed like a particularly timely issue.

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Heads or Tails: Calling it in the Air

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

The phrase “the long tail,” coined by Wired editor Chris Anderson, refers to the increasing viability of selling to a small niche of consumers rather than marketing to the masses. In the book of the same name, this concept is parlayed into business advice based on the assumption that the web has made it not only possible, but, in the long run, more profitable to make more money off smaller groups of the most dedicated consumers without risking more up-front to gamble on blockbuster hits. The phrase refers to the graph of how sales might look in this model, with the most mainstream hits still in the “head” (selling a lot to many people) and an increasingly long, flat “tail” of materials garnering smaller sales to few people (but still selling enough to get by). Favorite examples of this theory in action are Amazon and Netflix, systems which make it possible to offer a broad array of unique products in addition to the usual hits, even if each of the more obscure products only reaches a small audience.

I recall this now because of an article in the Harvard Business Review, “Should you invest in the long tail?” The author’s research indicates that attention to blockbusters may actually be increasing, rather than decreasing, online; she suggests, “the tail is likely to be extremely flat and populated by titles that are mostly a diversion for consumers whose appetite for true blockbusters continues to grow.”

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