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The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference Paperback – January 7, 2002
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"The best way to understand the dramatic transformation of unknown books into bestsellers, or the rise of teenage smoking, or the phenomena of word of mouth or any number of the other mysterious changes that mark everyday life," writes Malcolm Gladwell, "is to think of them as epidemics. Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do." Although anyone familiar with the theory of memetics will recognize this concept, Gladwell's The Tipping Point has quite a few interesting twists on the subject.
For example, Paul Revere was able to galvanize the forces of resistance so effectively in part because he was what Gladwell calls a "Connector": he knew just about everybody, particularly the revolutionary leaders in each of the towns that he rode through. But Revere "wasn't just the man with the biggest Rolodex in colonial Boston," he was also a "Maven" who gathered extensive information about the British. He knew what was going on and he knew exactly whom to tell. The phenomenon continues to this day--think of how often you've received information in an e-mail message that had been forwarded at least half a dozen times before reaching you.
Gladwell develops these and other concepts (such as the "stickiness" of ideas or the effect of population size on information dispersal) through simple, clear explanations and entertainingly illustrative anecdotes, such as comparing the pedagogical methods of Sesame Street and Blue's Clues, or explaining why it would be even easier to play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon with the actor Rod Steiger. Although some readers may find the transitional passages between chapters hold their hands a little too tightly, and Gladwell's closing invocation of the possibilities of social engineering sketchy, even chilling, The Tipping Point is one of the most effective books on science for a general audience in ages. It seems inevitable that "tipping point," like "future shock" or "chaos theory," will soon become one of those ideas that everybody knows--or at least knows by name. --Ron Hogan --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
The premise of this facile piece of pop sociology has built-in appeal: little changes can have big effects; when small numbers of people start behaving differently, that behavior can ripple outward until a critical mass or "tipping point" is reached, changing the world. Gladwell's thesis that ideas, products, messages and behaviors "spread just like viruses do" remains a metaphor as he follows the growth of "word-of-mouth epidemics" triggered with the help of three pivotal types. These are Connectors, sociable personalities who bring people together; Mavens, who like to pass along knowledge; and Salesmen, adept at persuading the unenlightened. (Paul Revere, for example, was a Maven and a Connector). Gladwell's applications of his "tipping point" concept to current phenomena--such as the drop in violent crime in New York, the rebirth of Hush Puppies suede shoes as a suburban mall favorite, teenage suicide patterns and the efficiency of small work units--may arouse controversy. For example, many parents may be alarmed at his advice on drugs: since teenagers' experimentation with drugs, including cocaine, seldom leads to hardcore use, he contends, "We have to stop fighting this kind of experimentation. We have to accept it and even embrace it." While it offers a smorgasbord of intriguing snippets summarizing research on topics such as conversational patterns, infants' crib talk, judging other people's character, cheating habits in schoolchildren, memory sharing among families or couples, and the dehumanizing effects of prisons, this volume betrays its roots as a series of articles for the New Yorker, where Gladwell is a staff writer: his trendy material feels bloated and insubstantial in book form. Agent, Tina Bennett of Janklow & Nesbit. Major ad/promo. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
“It takes the smallest change to shatter epidemics equilibrium” sets the tone for the book in my opinion. Letting you grasp the concept that it’s the subtle things that create a monumental compounding effect in epidemics. The book pulls you into the short stories broken down to explain how the smallest change can happen in any of the 3 agents.
Law of the Few- it’s not masses of agitating agents that cause an epidemic, but just a few small “insignificant” changes.
Stickiness Factor- delivering a message in such a way that a person cannot remove it from their mind.
Power of Context- the sensitivity we have to our surroundings and situations that make us react in a certain manner.
He also breaks down how there are 3 main people that 3 types of people that are critical to social epidemics.
Connectors- These people who have an uncanny ability to make friends everywhere they go. Nothing makes them happier than building and keeping relationships with people. These people simply make the length of seemingly impossible connections far shorter then you can fathom.
Marvans- These are people that live for the moment to share something with you. To somehow provide you with money saving or life changing recommendations. They have a wealth of knowledge in consumer goods and services and just want to help get the best deal and or experience. These people drive word of mouth advertising.
Salesman- This is what I am. These are people that have the ability to persuade someone from the point of not interested to so excited they are telling their friends. Not because they are conniving or taking advantage of people but because they have a passion for what they are offering or telling you about. They wake up excited about the ability to help another person because that’s what their feeling of success is wrapped around. “What separates a great salesman from the average one is the number of answers they have to the objections commonly raised by potential clients.”
Who would like this book? People interested in marketing/sales, communication, social movements, social capital, social networks, persuasion, and influence.
Gladwell is yet another "I read everything he writes" type of writer. If you peruse the 'news' for Gladwell, I am fascinated by how seemingly polarizing he can be particularly with regard to whether what he says is valid, scholarly, or worthy of consideration (smile). Yet from a reader's perspective - his thoughts have a great deal of street credibility, meaning - Gladwell has a knack for describing, illustrating and explaining (with a great deal of clarity) our lived experience regardless of the topic he chooses....such that I find myself wanting to tell the critics to just relax - he's not portraying himself as a social scientist, he's a writer telling a story about what he sees and the observations he makes....
John Klawitter, DGA Director, writer of the award winning action thriller novel Hollywood Havoc: The Trouble With Fat Boy.
We live in a pretty complex world. To understand it we need our complex brains to solve complex problems. Things are simply not that simple.
What is the difference between a single person wearing a new style and a fashion trend? What is the difference between a standard children's show and the venerable Sesame Street? The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell is the study of epidemics.
Epidemics are paradigm shifting events. Though they change the landscape, epidemics are usually caused by very small, almost imperceptible, circumstances.
According to Gladwell, there are three rules of epidemics. The Law of the Few dictates that it takes only a handful of people - the correct people - to launch an epidemic. The Stickiness Factor focuses on to make a message most effective. And the Power of Context maintains that the conditions need to be right to create that epidemic movement. Malcolm Gladwell spends half the book describing his three rules of epidemics and the other half providing a few case studies.
This book was incredibly interesting and entertaining. The room I read the more I wanted to read. I seriously did not want to put the book down.
This genre of book - social psychology or just pulling back the curtain on life itself - is easily becoming one of my new favorites.