The Tipping point

The Tipping point

How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (2000)

By Malcolm Gladwell

I am quite impressed with this book that I learnt a number of things from it.

The Three Rules of Epidemic lies in :
A. Law of the Few
B. Stickness Factor
C. Power of Context

The Law of the Few talks about the success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts. Malcom categorised these people critical to social epidemics into Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen.

A connector is someone who knows lots of people. They are the kinds of people who know everyone. It is not normal social behavior. It’s a little unusual. The connector collects people the same way others collect stamps. He remembers the boys he played with sixty years ago, the address of his best friend growing up, the name of the man his college girlfriend had a crush on when she spent her junior years overseas. These details are kept in computer with the names and address, details under what circumstances which he met the person. This is what is called a “weak tie” – a friendly yet casual social connection.

A Maven is a person who has information on a lot of different products or prices or places. This person likes to initiate discussions with consumers and responds to requests. This is the person who connects people to the marketplace and has the inside scoop on the marketplace. To be a Maven is to be a teacher,a databank. His motivation is to educate and to help.

I like the Broken Window Theory mentioned in the book. Broken Windows was the brainchild of the criminologists James Q. Wilson and George Kelling. Wilson and Kelling argued that crime is the inevitable result of disorder. If a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking by will conclude that no one cares and no one is in charge. Soon, more windows will be broken, and the sense of anarchy will spread from the building to the street on which it faces, sending a signal that anything goes. In a city, relatively minor problems like graffiti, public disorder, and aggressive panhandling, they write, are all equivalent of broken windows, invitations to more serious crimes.  This shows that it is important to keep the small things in order, in order to ensure the big picture is done well.

I also like the idea of the magic number 150 from the book.  The figure of 150 seems to represent the maximum number of individuals with whom we can have a genuinely social relationship, the kind of relationship that goes with knowing who they are and how they relate to us. It’s the number of people you would not feel embarrassed about joining uninvited for a drink if you happened to bump into them in a bar. Come to think of it, it is quite true… I am thinking if a person’s facebook has more than 150 people, it could be he shares no genuine social relationship with most of them or none of them. In the book, it is mentioned that when things get larger than 150, people become strangers to one another.

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