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The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 7. Januar 2002

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Taschenbuch, 7. Januar 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 -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

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Why is it that fashion trends change the way we dress? Why do various TV shows, movies, and books become so popular? Malcolm Gladwell provides a diagram of our society, along with an analysis of the strategies people apply to influence and mold its direction. Gladwell describes the personality types that create trends and those that influence others by "spreading the word." History takes on a whole new perspective as he describes events of early America that specifically follow his theories of "selling the public on an idea" and "social epidemics." Feedback from market mavericks further substantiates Gladwell's viewpoints. B.J.P. © AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine [Published: AUG/ SEPT 01] -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

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Easy to read without being dumb, he makes some good points even if it falls short of scientific rigour. Don't regret buying it,won't re-read it however.
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Gladwell's theory, of why fashions or ideas catch on, does make some sense. According to him a tipping point is more likely to be reached when three pertinent ingredients are present:

Few but highly contagious individuals, a stickiness factor and the right context.

The rest of the book tries to support this model with disjointed stories, opinions (but not facts) and more theories. It's all very interesting and in the end I knew far more about the NY subway system and Sesame Street than I ever planned to learn, but it doesn't change the fact that there's nothing in there I can actually use.
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... I found that I could not not review this book. After all, I am currently wearing Hush Puppies, and belong to a major religion that was born out of what Malcolm Gladwell might have described as a 'tipping point' thousands of years ago. In this impulse, Gladwell echoes the words of Margaret Mead, who once said 'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.' This is the tipping point principle.
Gladwell's writing style is up-beat and popular - he is a staff writer for the New Yorker, and that style is clearly present in his writing here. Thus, those who appreciate the New Yorker will tend to like this book; those who don't, won't. Gladwell occasionally plays a bit loose with the documentation, and relies much more an anecdotal and consensus opinions than necessarily getting strong, documented proof. Then again, with a principle like the tipping point, this might not be the most important thing in any event - any hard, cold statistical data of the early Christian movement might have dismissed this wandering band of a dozen troublemakers as insignificant.
Some of Gladwell's conclusions are likewise problematic, again based on a more intuitive approach that will appeal to some and not to others. In particular, I would question his liberality of accepting drug use; while one might agree that the war on drugs goes in directions that are less helpful while other problems loom large, I'm not convinced (nor does Gladwell's argument seem very strong in this direction) that permitting or encouraging children this experience is the best course.
Some have begun describing the recent Hurricane Katrina disaster as a tipping point for the economy, but whether this will be a tipping point for good or bad, one cannot say.
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I read this book in part of one day - it's a good, quick read. Unlike some of the people who didn't care for the book - I never read the New Yorker article. It may be that the book doesn't add enough new info to excite folks who have read that article. But to me the book threw out a good number of new ideas and concepts very quickly and very clearly. I found his ability to draw a nexus between things that, on the surface seem very divergent, was very interesting, and he did it smoothly, without jumping around a lot.
The thrust of the book is that there are three things that can converge to bring about dramatic and perhaps unexpectedly fast changes in our society. These are the context (the situational environment - especially when it's near the balance or 'tipping point'), the idea, and the people involved. His point is that very small changes in any or several of the context, the quality of the idea (which he calls 'stickiness', ie how well the idea sticks), or whether the idea reaches a very small group of key people can trigger a dramatic epidemic of change in society.
"In a given process or system some people matter more than others." (p.19). "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." (p.33).
He divides these gifted people into three categories: Connectors, Mavens and Salespeople. "Sprinkled among every walk of life ... are a handful of people with a truly extraordinary knack of making friends and acquaintances. They are Connectors." (p. 41). "I always keep up with people." (p. 44 quoting a "Connector").
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Unfortunately, "The Tipping Point" is a book I must say which I regret having bought. On advice from a friend and all of the good reviews it has had lately I went ahead and bought it. After reading it though, the book itself is, to me, another one of the many examples of mass-marketed popular psychology books, which, when printed, attracts a feeding-frenzy of so-called truth lovers and people who want to find out "how the world really is". (Note how many times this phrase is repeated on the online reviews of the book.) Even Gladwell himself purports to be speaking the "truth" but, unfortunately, examining a few cases which had something in common, or in which even the evidence was overwhelming does not account for"truth" and is in no way part of any psychological-scientific method. Even real psychologists will tell you that statistics cannot capture everything, which Gladwell does not.
Either way however, what was most disturbing about this book turns on two things. First, Gladwell has coined many terms, e.g. "Mavens," "Connectors," etc, but fails, in significant places, to properly qualify them. Where he does qualify them, the arguments are much less strong than the social psychological weight they are meant to bear. Secondly, and more importantly, for those who are looking for "Cure-alls" to the so-called diseases of the world, and such, Gladwell has advice. But for those of us who are a bit more modest in our scope of possibilities (not to mention better read and more enlightened), the book's final, disgusting section on social engineering can only come as a surprise and a shock. Let's put it this way: In the 1600s, Thomas Hobbes' political and social-theoretical world was a much, much kinder and gentler place than Gladwell's in the 21st Century. I'll leave it at that.
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