The Coney Island problem | Seth’s Blog


Disney theme parks created more than 20 billion dollars in revenue last year.

Coney Island, not so much.

Coney Island is dozens of small honky tonk vendors and attractions, an ecosystem, not a corporation.

Independent local stores got hammered by the more organized stores in the mall and then by the centrally controlled Wal-mart and other box stores. And then the big box stores got hammered in turn by Amazon, a rigidly controlled system that puts the little guys at its mercy.

RSS and blogs were a federation of independent voices. It didn’t take much for them to be co-opted by a few tech giants.

We’d like to believe that we prefer to walk down the picturesque street, visiting one merchant after another, buying directly from the creator or her gallery. We’d like to think that the centralized antiseptic option isn’t for us…

And yet, when the supermarche opens in rural France, it does very well.

It turns out that we respond well to large entities that pretend that they’re simply a conglomeration of independent voices and visions, but when masses of people are given a choice, they’re drawn to the big guy, not the real thing.

The long tail is real, but we’ve been trained to prefer it if the tail is contained within a centrally-controlled system run by a corporation.


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