Is the Tipping Point Toast? Who cares?


It's been blogged to death I know, but I wanted to link to it anyway.

Article: Is the Tipping Point toast?

My answer: Who cares?

And with that in mind, why an I even linking to it?

Here's a summary for people who couldn't be bothered reading it all:

  • Malcolm Gladwell's famous book makes a big point about key influencers.
  • Duncan Watts, a network-theory scientist from Columbia University thinks it is all a load of hokum.
  • The Six Degrees of Separation experiment is repeated and confirmed
  • Ed Keller (author) thinks Watts' data is too academic and doesn't reflect reality
  • Just about everyone agrees that influencers are needed, but are only one part of the equation
  • Word of mouth and mass marketing are key

Best quote comes from Gladwell himself:

"Duncan Watts is exceedingly clever, and I've learned a great deal from his research. In the end, though, I suppose that I feel the same ways about his insights as I do about Steve Levitt's disagreements with me over the causes of the decline in violent crime in the 1990s. I think that all books like The Tipping Point or articles by academics can ever do is uncover a little piece of the bigger picture, and one day–when we put all those pieces together–maybe we'll have a shot at the truth."


Note: I've read Gladwell's book and Steve Levitt's. They are both fascinating reads. And as usual, if you approach a book with the aim of learning something, even if you don't necessarily agree with it, then you will always come out ahead of where you started.

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By Craig Bailey