Monday, March 8, 2010

The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell

The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell, Little Brown and Company 2000

After reading The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell, I am reconsidering completing his book quartet.

I thought Outliers was fantastic. I thought Blink was good. I thought The Tipping Point was boring.

Maybe, as Gladwell points out in The Tipping Point, I am growing tired of his formulaic message he repeatedly uses in his books.

You see, Gladwell talks about the advent of email and how it was so cool and rare in its infancy that geting email was exciting and fun. But after it tipped, and everyone was using it, it became a chore and something to be dreaded at times.

Malcolm's formula for taking research and combining it with interesting anecdotes to kind of, sort of, maybe prove a commonly held belief went from interesting to a chore.

In Outliers, for example, Gladwell uses Bill Gates as one of his examples. Gates was lucky enough to be born into a wealthy environment and have access to University of Washington computers. Combined with 10,000-plus hours of practice writing software on these computers, and Gates took off. Pretty interesting.

In Blink, it's a police officer who goes off of a gut reaction and kills an unarmed man. He illustrates that following your gut is good, but the gut must be trained. Again, not surprising, but interesting.

In The Tipping Point, Gladwell's examples are much more boring. Smoking, sales of shoes, crime rates. And his point is, that to cause something to gain widespread adoption, it takes someone who is well connected, someone who is knowledgeable and unbiased about the subject and someone who can sell or promote the idea. Um, yeah. I read that once...in a dictionary....under marketing.

What is surprising is that The Tipping Point, Blink and Outliers are so similar. They all attempt to expound upon commonly held beliefs. What makes the Tipping Point less than interesting is the examples. They are trite and forced.

I'm glad a didn't buy this one. Thank you, Public Library.

Take a pass on The Tipping Point.

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