James Governor's Monkchips

The Long Tails of Beer and Museums

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The Long Tail: The Long Tail of Beer

Did the Long Tail just become a hit, or did it jump the shark, or is it just mainstream now. I knew Long Tail thinking was going to change the many businesses think. But Anheuser-Busch? Long Tail Libations…

Well done Chris.

Now I have you hooked with thoughts of brooze on a Friday afternoon (what’s your favourite beer, by the way, mine is Czech Budvar, check out this Cuban dreamcar themed beer ad with a Lao-Tzu quotation), its time to talk about museums…

I met Microsoft’s Charles Fitzgerald and Peter Bell for lunch. Charles did what he does so well – bash the competion. But he didn’t generate a blog…

Peter on the other did. Microsoft is apparently digitising the British Museum. I thought it was digitised before, but there you go. the new is always new again.

Our conversation made me realise something about museums and what the act of curatorship is – its nothing less than deciding (with reference to balanced communiy interests (the public, the Academy, the sponsors, The Saatchis) what’s a hit and what isn’t. Museums are offline tag-gardeners.
Visit almost any museum in the world and you will only see a tiny fraction of the collection. The British Library for example- nobody ever sees its manuscript collection.
Or the V&A – which has a Cornucopia of holdings in arts and crafts. The tyranny of the masses means you can only see the hits – or the latest cut of the available collection.

But by digitising their collections these institutions enable Long Tail affects. More people will be able to study the artefacts and work out what makes them interesting, and so.. valuable. These insitutions, which are often oriented to the public interest, are can enable the Cornucopia of the commons through digitisation and sharing.

One final note on this digitisation as it applies to the hard facts of economics when it comes to running museums. Tastes in art and architecture change markedly over time. Many is the time a museum carries out a clean out of old stuff they can’t find room to display. “Oh those Expressionists are so passe’!” Let’s flog off the Pre-Raphaelites…

Which is all very well and good until fashions change.

Could it be that museums and other public institutions could and should have a new way of thinking about the stuff “nobody is interested in”. Yes like books about mountain-climbing survival stories.

So that is Long Tail in a couple of dimensions. Time for a Budvar.


  1. James,
    I’m about to open a Rothaus Tannenzäffle. This is brewed at the very top of black forest, and it picks up a faint pine taste from water. I defy you to have just one.

    there is even an importer in the land of warm beer. http://www.rothausshop.co.uk/

  2. James that article about Touching Void is pretty interesting. I’ve read both those books and it’s no wonder Touching the Void outsells Into Thin Air now. First of all Joe Simpson is a freak show of mountaineering, and I mean that in a good way. It’s crazy that he kept climbing. I couldn’t put that book down!

    BTW Budvar does rock! Did you know the call it Czechvar here in Canada because of naming disputes with Budweiser. Bastards!

  3. Hard to find a favorite between all the good stuff out there, but probably either Liefmans Goudenband or Rochefort no 8.

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