The long tail of authority

The long tail has now become a Web 2.0 cliché, but it I think that it applies to far more than just online commerce.

There is a long tail of authority.

As means of illustration, lets compare charts showing units of record sales with “units” of computer advice.

Even though the big company (e.g. Symantec) gives out more advice units than any of the little guys (e.g. the neighborhood kid who is “good with computers”), there are way more little guys out there.

For most people, the neighborhood kid holds a lot more sway than a big company. Not to drag the comparison into the ground, but I think this parallels how a lesser known band is alomst guarunteed to be more loved than the mega-stars.

So what does this have to do with Web 2.0? The internet enables all aspects of the long tail, not just shopping. Pysical stores are under attack by the long tail of online shopping, and the traditional media are under attack by the long tail of blogs.

As I see it, the problem is that people only have access to their immediate experts (such as the neighbor kid) or to experts with a huge PR budget who can sell the idea that they are trustworthy. What about all the ones in between?