Sunday, May 11, 2008

On Chris Anderson and the long tail of freeconomics

RE: Chris Anderson
Editor in Chief, Wired Magazine;
Author, The Long Tail (2006), Free (anticipated 2009)

Chris Anderson is at the top of the google trends today. While I haven't a clue why googlers are looking him up today, I do know that he is one of our era's most articulate and influential voices at the center of the new economy. He has written important and exciting new books that put forth an entirely new economic model for business - one that is built on an economics of abundance rather than scarcity.

In The Long Tail, Anderson proposes that the future of business is selling less (volume) of more (variety). Niche is everything, and everything is niche. As the cost of reaching consumers drops, markets are shifting from a one-size-fits-all model of mass appeal to one of unlimited variety for unique tastes. It should come as no surprise that Anderson believes it's the internet which makes the Long Tail of niche markets not only possible, but inevitable. The Long Tail blog chronicles evidence of his theory, and makes for interesting reading.

In a recent interview with The Guardian Newspaper (UK), Anderson discusses his new book Free, to be published next year. "Freeconomics"- businesses making money by offering free goods or services - is what he contends we will see more and more of in the dawning economic era that he is convinced we have already entered. Turning everything we know about economics on its head, freeconomics suggests that businesses who don't follow suit to give away a lion's share of their products for free, will be the ones who find themselves out of business.

What Anderson's theories do for me is validate my own hunch that there is indeed enough of everything we could possibly want to go around. There is so much surplus STUFF in the world, that the only way businesses are going to get rid may very well be to give it away.

But what I can't help but wonder from my corner of the wwworld is how freeconomics and the long tail in western markets and online will play out in sub-Saharan Africa and other receiver-nations of charity aid. Will Africa's poor be getting any of the free stuff, and what will happen in the international charity world then? Will those nations' local markets also evolve to demand that the small businesspeople financed by Kiva give away their products for free?

What do the global ripples of what Chris Anderson tells us is happening look like when we look a wee bit wider than at just the wired world?

I can't wait to find out.

christinaswwworld trends - stepping stones to new pathways

Over the past 2 months I have been venturing into online neighborhoods where folks are making money on the internet by working from home. My objective has been not only to find ways that I can earn money for myself working from home, but more specifically to identify activities that friends of mine here in Uganda (where I live) can consider as possible sources of income for community activities that they would like to undertake.

After investing in several ebooks and scouring the click exchanges for tools and ideas, I decided to try my hand at blogging the google trends. Within 24 hours of my first post, the ourwwworld blog had received over 600 visitors and raked in over $60 in advertising revenue. Within a week of deliberately very little additional activity (and none of it quality writing), the total revenue reached over $150 - which is more than very many Ugandans earn in a whole month.

Last year I initiated an online experiment with my Ugandan friends that involved researching health topics on the internet and presenting them to non-internet literate communities. This year, I think they should seriously consider researching the google trends, and blogging about what they learn on monetized blogs - in addition to telling their communities about the global trends they learn about. My thinking is that if my Ugandan friends can work together as a team of bloggers, they could earn significant amounts of financing for their community activities - blogging the google trends is an excellent (and lucrative) way for them to start getting a feel for how blogging can work. (I've no doubt that once they get the hang of it, they will have many other things to say.)

Now that I've experimented a bit, I'm finally getting the hang of things myself. From today, ourwwworld will be where I post a roundup of any google trending that my Ugandan friends and I post individually. Christinaswwworld trends (this blog) is where I will try to post some occasionally intelligent cross-cultural thoughts inspired by the google trends I see.

thanks for being here.