Inferior Good: Diminishing Marginal Stupidity in Action

Monday, June 26, 2006

The golden age of the alternative fringe

Jamie Goode expresses a popular sentiment on his wine blog; concern for the uniform and sanitized civilization resulting from the world's alleged increasing sameness. It sounds to me as though he’s worried the mainstream is crowding out the alternative fringe.

In my view, the alternative fringe is quite healthy. Indeed, the fringe will continue to expand with the creation of ever better tools that help people like Mr. Goode keep the world interesting.

Communication and trade are cheaper and more accessible than ever before in human history. It takes mere minutes on the Internet for a small producer of interesting wine in say, Slovenia, to find some folks that might enjoy her wine. Perhaps she’d send a bottle to Mr. Goode. If Mr. Goode wrote a glowing review of said wine, surely other like-minded promoters of wine would notice. Somebody like blogger and NY Times writer Eric Asimov, for example. Perhaps Mr. Asimov would tell a sommelier friend about the Slovenian find. Maybe the wine ends up on the wine list of the sommelier’s influential NY restaurant, causing a stir in the local fine wine scene. Next thing you know, a fine wine shop is recommending the bottle to a regular guy like me.

You get the idea. Globalization is connecting the world’s alternative fringe. As long as there are people that want to be different, there will be alternatives outside the mainstream. Music is an excellent example of this phenomena. For a much more eloquent expression of these ideas, see Tyler Cowen’s Creative Destruction: How Globalization Is Changing the World's Cultures and Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail.

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