Monday, November 13, 2006
The Tipping Point
I finally finished my book this weekend! Following my post a couple of weeks ago about books and reading, I decided to make an effort to at least finish one of the books I started a few months ago on my way to London....
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, a writer for the New Yorker Magazine, is a must-read. It explores why certain things suddenly take epidemic proportions, seemingly overnight.
Through a series of concepts, Gladwell takes us through several examples of why some changes happen so quickly, such as the sudden popularity of Hush Puppies, just as the company was practically facing bankruptcy; or why crime suddenly dropped in NYC in the mid-1990's.
When he writes about what it's like to think of the world in epidemic terms, here's what Gladwell has to say:
A world that follows the rules of epidemics is a very different place from the world we think we live in now. Think, for a moment, about the concept of contagiousness. If I say that word to you, you think of colds and the flu or perhaps something very dangerous like H.I.V. or Ebola. We have, in our minds, a very specific, biological, notion of what contagiousness means. But if there can be epidemics of crime or epidemics of fashion, there must be all kinds of things just as contagious as viruses.
Have you ever thought about yawning, for instance? Yawning is a surprisingly powerful act. Just by reading the two yawns in the previous two sentences--and the two additional yawns in this sentence--a good number of you will probably yawn within the next few minutes. Even as I'm writing this I've yawned twice. If you're reading this in a public place, and you've just yawned, chances are that a good proportion of everyone who saw you yawn is now yawning too, and a good proportion of the people watching the people who watched you yawn are now yawning as well, and on and on, in a ever-widening, yawning circle.
So how many times have you yawned?
Gladwell also has a blog, if you feel like checking it out. Now onto my next book!