Sunday, April 29, 2007

About the Name

The blog name I chose, Proliferation of Niches, is from the Herbert Simon quote I have had at the top my web site for years:

"If there is such a trend toward variety, then evolution is not to be understood as a series of tournaments for the occupation of a fixed set of environmental niches, each tournament won by the organism that is fittest for that niche. Instead evolution brings about a proliferation of niches... Vannevar Bush wrote of science as an "endless frontier." It can be endless, as can be the process of design and the evolution of human society, because there is no limit on diversity in the world." (The Sciences of the Artificial, p. 165)

I considered Endless Frontier, but that is too well known as the title of the Vannevar Bush report (and sounds too much like Star Trek :-)

After choosing the blog name I found the phrase is currently being used in discussions in and about the blogosphere:

"With an expanded network, individuals are able to reach out to a potentially larger and more varied pool of culture and information. While debates on globalization in the heyday of mass media suggested that interconnection would lead to the homogenization of culture, in the Internet era, the opposite appears to be more the case. What we are seeing now is a proliferation of niches. We see this in subcultures such as English-language fandoms of Japanese animation, a case described in the culture chapter. Now teens in the US can gain access to niche Japan-origin media that they would never have been able to get their hands on even a decade ago. In the blogosphere, this tendency has been criticized as creating an “echo chamber,” where bloggers and audiences are connecting with greater frequency and fidelity with people who share their opinions, relying less on the standards of neutrality espoused by the mainstream press. "

It is also popular with the "Long Tail" economic crowd:

"Pietro assumes that a proliferation of niche markets will lead to a proliferation of niche suppliers, and hence the dilution of the authority of the big suppliers. I don't see any reason to believe that this is the case. Indeed, one of Chris Anderson's own preferred examples is based on Amazon sales rank - and there's nothing very diffuse about Amazon, or the authority wielded by Amazon. Much of the buzz around the 'Long Tail' seems to derive, ultimately, from this confusion of the two meanings of 'niche'."

While I originally chose the quote for my web site for the biological, technical, and social evolution aspects, I expect the blogosphere and long tail meanings will tie in here. My site started long before blogs. Unless you count CHAOS MANOR in the back of Byte Magazine (which I used to read every month at the public library), now calling itself The Original Blog.

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