the end of cartographic information or just the beginning?

OK, here's something that confuses me.

There are two grand theories out there right now that relate to maps and cartographic information. You've heard of both of them, but I've never seen them compared. They promise almost exactly opposite results.

The first and most trendy is the so-called "long tail" of information. Adena's recent article summarizes it well:

The "long tail" coined by Chris Anderson (editor of Wired, who followed up with an article in that publication recently and published a book by that name this week, which was referenced in The New York Times) refers to the phenomenon whereby there's lots of demand for a few popular products (movies, books, albums/songs) and hence they produce a lot of revenue for companies (NetFlix, Amazon, iTunes), but there's little demand for lots of other similar products. For example, many people are going to want to rent Stephen Spielberg's Munich (like my brother and my parents and others), but only a few will want to rent Running on the Sun, about a long race through the desert (like me and other crazies who think that's interesting/fun).

So, Blockbuster will make a lot from Munich and other "blockbusters." It'll make less from Running on the Sun, but… and this is the key thing… it doesn't cost Blockbuster (NetFlix, Amazon, fill in your favorite Business 2.0 company here) that much to stock those films that are in "less demand." In fact, by making available all of those "long tail" films for a long time and serving them to the few who want to see them, it can make a pretty penny.
(Actually the key idea here isn't so new; it was invented by the economist Pareto in 1906, you can read about him in Wikipedia here. His principle is more commonly known as the 80:20 rule or the Pareto law.)

On the other hand we have an even more trendy idea known as "globalization." As it relates to maps and mapping, globalization will reduce the choices that we have through corporate integration, the replacement of smaller, diverse stores with gloobally international ones, and the homogenization of world culture. This was recently discussed in the context of WalMart in last month's Harper's (available online here). The author, Barry C. Lynn, argues that Walmart is a latter-day Standard Oil. A staggering 1 in 5 of every retail purchase in America is done at a Walmart's, and they delibaretely and successfully reduce choice:
The idea that Wal-Mart's power actually subverts the functioning of the free market will seem shocking to some. After all, the firm rose to dominance in the same way that many thousands of other companies before it did -- through smart innovation, a unique culture, and a focus on serving the customer. Even a decade ago, Americans could fairly conclude that, in most respects, Wal-Mart's rise had been good for the nation. But the issue before us is not how Wal-Mart grew to scale but how Wal-Mart uses its power today and will use it tomorrow. The problem is that Wal-Mart, like other monopsonists, does not participate in the market so much as use its power to micromanage the market, carefully coordinating the actions of thousands of firms from a position above the market.
So on the one hand the long tail will provide us with tons of choice and different types of maps, and mappings, while on the other globalization will do exactly the opposite. Which is the real story here?

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