Mar 23 2011

Short Fiction, the Long Tail, and Existential Angst

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There’s a lot to cover today! Starting at the top, I am looking with interest at the idea of doing a podcast on various fiction-related topics. Right now I’m trying to secure a pod-partner or two and work out the details, with an eye towards launching sometime this summer or fall. If there’s anything you’d be particularly interested in, or if you’d like to participate, let me know in the comments or via e-mail.

Next item: supernatural erotica, I freely admit, is not my cup of tea. However! If it is your cuppa, please check out The Arcane, by Mur Rathbun, an old pal of mine. I expect it’s quite lurid. 😉

Speaking of checking out fiction, thanks to Jim van Pelt I have recently found out about Every Day Fiction, a website that provides a daily short story via e-mail or RSS feed. Very cool!

And if you want something longer than the average short story, check out The Economics of Niche Programming on the Overthinking It blog. Ostensibly about why good TV shows die young, it also has some interesting points about “the long tail” and how companies that thrive on it (Amazon, Netflix) operate.

So why did BSG succeed when Firefly failed? Why is It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia entering its seventh season when Arrested Development struggled for three? What’s the element that those successful shows had in common?

When blogging for OTI, I try to avoid talking about the economic factors that go into the production of art. Economics can seem simplistic — like a “just-so story” — or reductionist. Why does The Walking Dead spend so much time at the campsite? Because they had a limited budget and could only shoot on a few sets. Done! Hit “Publish” and kick back until next week. When all you have is a bachelor’s degree in economics, everything looks like a widget factory.

But when talking about the overall logic of why one show succeeds and another largely identical show fails, economics can’t be avoided. You have to talk about what the market looks like, who the biggest producers and consumers are, and how the incentives line up.

And finally, because it suits the day somehow, let’s have a bit of brilliance from XKCD:
Socrates could've saved himself a lot of trouble if he'd just brought a flashlight, tranquilizer gun, and a bunch of rescue harnesses.

Catcha later!

-The Gneech

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