Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Tipping Point

The First Friday book club is getting together this Friday at 10:30 am to discuss The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. New members are always welcome.

Malcolm Gladwell is a staff writer at The New Yorker, and you can read his New Yorker articles here (the latest is an interesting one about the limitations of criminal profiling).

The Tipping Point is a book about the 3 factors that can bring about epidemic change:
1) The people who are agents of change (connectors, mavens and salesmen)
2) The "sticky", i.e. contagious or memorable thing that is spreading (news of a revolution, a fad, etc.)
3) The environment in which the change takes place (what Gladwell refers to as "the Power of Context").

We'll be basing our discussion on questions from Gladwell's web site.

Gladwell has a blog full of the kinds of fascinating stories you find in his books, ranging from Kenyan long distance runners to the stereotypes we use to make conversation with strangers.

Magazines are fond of pitting Gladwell's theories against those of other bestselling authors. Newsweek pointed out in April that Jerome Groopman's book, How Doctors Think, contradicts the main idea behind Gladwell's book Blink (decisionmaking based on instinct). And in April 2006 Fortune reported on the "cyber-spat" between Gladwell and Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, co-authors of Freakonomics. Freakonomics theorizes that Roe vs. Wade led to the drop in the crime rate in the 90s, while Gladwell's theory of broken windows from The Tipping Point points to law enforcement.

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