Sunday, October 01, 2006


The Ultimate Filter

I'm half-way through reading Chris Anderson's The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More. I don't know about you, but I want to discuss books as I read them. I find that I'm asking questions of the authors as I go and then discovering the answers a few pages after I anticipated them - a little literary ESP, if you will.

Chapter 7 is called "The New Tastemakers" and discusses how anyone, with the help of the internet, can propel a long tail product to popularity, not just our typical cultural critics, A&R folks, and giant media corporations.

There's a section in this chapter called "Filters Rule." With so many more songs, books, movies, products & etc. to choose from via the internet, there has to be someone or something out there willing to help us sort through all of it and find what we want. According to Anderson, "The job of filters is to screen out that noise." (pg. 115) Google is one such filter. Amazon's book rankings are another such filter.

The Ultimate Filter, however, is a human being. Not just me. Not just you. But every single one of us is a filter. Of course, not all of us share the opinions and tastes we acquire through our filtering activities. Some keep them quietly to themselves. Some, the tastemakers and cultural mavens, boldly broadcast their tastes and opinions.

I'd never thought of myself as a tastemaker, still don't really. My interests are too scattershot to have much impact. In fact, if you look at my profile, you'll see some pretty disparate topics. How could they possibly hang together in a coherent fashion? Yet, what gives them an affinity is that they filter through me, a single individual, just like your disparate interests filter through you, and your neighbor's interests filter through him and on and on and on. The cohesiveness and eventual creativity (the splicing) comes from the uniqueness of each of us Ultimate Filters.

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