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Susan Boyle and The Power of the Long Tail

by Anthony J. Bradley  |  April 20, 2009  |  1 Comment

The Susan Boyle phenomenon is a great example of Long Tail economics as applied to social software and mass collaboration.

Susan Boyle is a very unlikely candidate as a music idol and would be and has been overlooked by the traditional “all head, no tail” music industry. However, the combination of the “Britain Has Talent” show spark (British version of USA’s “American Idol” show) and the YouTube/social networking combustion chamber has led to an explosion taking her from long tail obscurity to multi-national phenomenon.

This is in response to the narrow-view mind set as put forth in books and articles such as Andrew Keen’s “The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing Our Culture.”

The social movement is often about finding the hidden gems in the mountains of rocks whether that gem is a ground-breaking innovation, game-changing idea, hard to find solution to a very difficult problem, or even a Susan Boyle.

Her’s is also a very inspiring story.

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Category: social-solutions  

Tags: expertise-location  long-tail  

Anthony J. Bradley
13 years at Gartner
30 years in IT

Anthony J. Bradley is a Group Vice President in Gartner Research. In this role he leads global teams of analysts who research the emerging technologies and trends that are changing today's world and shaping the future. Mr. Bradley's group strives to provide technology product and service leaders (Tech CEOs, General Managers, Chief Product Officers, Practice Leads, Product Managers and Product Marketers) with unique, high-value research and indispensable advice on leveraging emerging technologies and trends to create and deliver highly successful products and services. Information technology now impacts pretty much every business function in all companies, all industries, and all geographies. Technology providers are critical to the technology and business innovation that will define the world of tomorrow. Innovation depends on technology providers. By helping them, we help the world.

Thoughts on Susan Boyle and The Power of the Long Tail

  1. An inspiring story indeed. I for one have watched that video more times than I care to admit (I love a story with an unlikely ending). Of course, this one is not over – and I suspect Susan Boyle will also become an instance of the hype cycle.

    Events that are triggered by something that departs from the status quo with this much momentum and speed are subject to the natural evolution of hype characterized by Jackie Fenn many years ago. I would bet Ms. Boyle is one of them. Like anything that catapults this quickly, she could indeed come crashing down and either stay there, or emerge from the trough of disillusinment into a plateau of something more steady – and yes, mainstream.

    In the meantime, she should soak it all in, but my advice to Ms. Boyle: brace yourself for the fall.

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