(Note: I’ve had this article open in a tab for weeks now, and I was going to write something a little more thought-out about it, but now I just want to post it and close the window because it’s kind of depressing me.)

Ted Gioia asks “Where Did the Long Tail Go?” It’s a great question; I read and enjoyed Chris Anderson‘s book, but it’s pretty much turned out to be a bust—if anything (and I know this is a broad generalization, and that there are some counter-examples), it appears that big players selling huge amounts of high-grossing product have become even more entrenched and dominant in the market, squeezing out the potential long-tailers that were supposed to flourish.

And, sadly, I think Gioia’s explanation around why the Long Tail has proven false is accurate:

There’s one more reason why the Long Tail has died in the digital world. Web platforms aren’t really focused on serving users—what they really want to do is control users. This almost always requires them to squeeze out niche and alternative views, and force as many customers as possible to follow the herd.

The Long Tail was published back in 2006, just before the rise of the social media giants, so while the premise may have been reasonable back then, my hypothesis is that the amplification + homogenization of cultural trends (“echo chambers”) that the social silos created has made it infinitely more difficult for the people on the fringes that were supposed to benefit to actually break through and reach the audiences that would enable them to thrive.