Can the long tail be segmented by style?
In a recent post on The Long Tail, Chris Anderson relates a discussion around how the 'tail' can be thought of in different ways in terms of search strategies. The idea is that the fat head will be human, the middle of the tail will be social and the long tail will be algorithmic. That seems logical since for my area of expertise I know what I don't know and who to ask, for related topics I'm guessing somebody I know might know somebody else who might know, and for completely new topics/areas I have no clue who to ask so let the machine try to help.
In support of the middle tail (or is this the 'belly'?) a friend of mine who runs echodonation has used LinkedIn as a social search tool. The ability to ask questions of a network of people has provided surprisingly good information along with the bad and blatant sales messages. A recent question about landing page design targeted to executives gave the development team good pointers - all for free and without advertising (I'm out of a job if this takes off).
So, what does Chris (my friend, not the author) do? He builds out a long tail of contacts in order enlarge his search network. From a handful of business associates and colleagues to a very large network he has created an extended search pool.
It is interesting to note that the market is determining the use of the product (again.)