Long Tail Thoughts
The LT is essentially a synthesis of a great dialectic of the last ten years - the shift from mass production (and mass marketing, etc) to personalization (aka mass customization).
You can think of two distributions of features of goods in a given product market, one at either end of a spectrum. We could call this spectrum production space. But first, let's assume that each consumer in this population has totally different preferences - no two share the same preference.
The first distribution is where everyone in a product market can only buy the same good - total homogeneity. Think of Model T's in 19xx. The second is where everyone receives exactly the good that matches their preferences - total heterogeneity. Think of...uhh...sci-fi books.
The second distribution is mass customization - what we thought the econ of the 21st century would look like. The first is mass production - driven by the standard economics of industrial production techniques (economies of scale, scope, etc) - what the 19th and 20th centuries looked like.
The LT is cool because it gives a more accurate of what the future econ of the 21st century is probably really
gonna look like - not true mass customization, but a significant shift towards that end of the production possibility space.