A long tail fisking with calculators: Good morning, number buffs. Today, we have some fun math smack down taking place between writers who can actually add and subtract. The Wall Street Journal’s Lee Gomes attempts to recalculate the numbers behind Chris Anderson’s book, The Long Tail. In near real-time, Chris (who obviously stayed up late last night) thoroughly responds to Gomes’ methodology. (In the blogosphere, some call this type of debate fisking.) Now, if Gomes had the ability on WSJ.com to continue responding to Anderson, and if the story was not behind a cost wall (I suspect that will change when the Journal sees bloggers pointing to it. later: they did), then we could really learn something. However, the WSJ story will remain static and all discussion of it by those who care will shift over to Chris’s blog.
Rexblog color commentary: While a section front (B-1) placement gives Gomes the early advantage, Anderson’s instant response that is polite and civil — and thoroughly calculated — is effective. As an author, you can’t appear to defensive — and Chris doesn’t — but you can’t hold back either. Because Chris blogged this book from its inception, through every chapter, and continues blogging it today, he has dozens of bloggers (along with academics and other experts who advised him) who have vetted his math along the way. In other words, he will not be the only person defending his methods and math today — although he will be the one who does so with the greatest civility. This will be a good case study for future authors to follow. Oh, yeah, and most importantly, Chris will sell more books.
Update: If you have any interest, you can follow the blogospheric discourse (I’m an optimist) on this topic at techmeme.
[If time permits, I’ll add some more to this post later in the day]
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