Toward the end of 2018, in New York City during blue sky days, several planes with red tails would catch my attention. Was this more than coincidental? I did what any curious person would do in this situation; I Googled it. The universe answered. People photograph, collect and share tail images. The phrase “red-tail plane” yielded a loyal constituency sharing photos of the tails and planes of the entire airline industry. Each tail is captured and graphically consolidated into the wonderfully thematic world. Lesson: a strange query can keep you going.
The desire to share observations, coupled with the capacity to do so on millions of free-to-edge platforms, yields a subset of individuals who have leaped from that edge to ask and answer one question. What do I want and need to know? As any economist will tell you, descriptions of the differences and links between want and need fill volumes of hard textbooks and soft, entertaining paperbacks. The “what to know problem” remains at the core of the debate in a world where there is nothing you can’t add.
The business of discovering how people, communities, even whole nations choose what they want and need to know begins with a helpful relationship with the world no matter what the experience. The ability to establish other relationships based on force is another where the red tail plane exists. What do these planes want from me? Why are they constantly in my line of sight? I eventually solved my planes with red tails problems like odors make your nose blind. I don’t see red tail planes anymore, and that is when it hit me like a slap in the face.
I got a hold of Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail, to hear about his experience since his work at Wired and his book. Jumping from “red tail” to “long tail” is a switch to allow yourself to use the power-law to focus on modern life. Anderson’s real-time number-driven vision of the world became future-driven by playing robotics with his kids and online. This is where the red tail and the long tail get interesting. He talked about meeting youthful engineers online and ended up building a drone factory in Tijuana. (Details).
When a sense of injustice threatens well-being, people flee, often in high numbers. Chris’s experience straightened me out. He sees the importance of a north-south vision of the American continents and, in his way, foretold the futility of Xenophobia slapped in our face like a wall. Then I saw it, the long tail of a 4,000 km march beginning in San Pedro Sula in northern Honduras and ending along the Mexico border.
I know why the red-tail plane brought me to a 4,000 km long-tail walk through Mexico. People like Chris Anderson figure out ways to prevent bloodshed and make those numbers in the long tail work. Sí, se puede my brothers and sisters, Sí, se puede.