I caught Malcolm Gladwell’s interview on The Straits’ Times and found it interesting. A check with my friend, an avid reader from KL and was surprised that she had read all his books. She recommended it highly.
Gladwell would make a good text-book writer for he is a good teacher. He makes a good introduction to the subject, The Tipping Point, by defining it clearly and why the subject should interest readers. He illustrates with case histories, going into great details as to what spark the change. Then he defines the theories that he thinks made the change possible, with more case histories thrown in, reminding the readers of the same theories and case histories that he presented in previous chapters, so as to link them clearly.
Basically, The Tipping Point is the best way to understand the emergence of fashion trends, the ebb and flow of crime waves, the transformation of unknown books into bestsellers, to the rest of teenage smoking…or any other mysterious changes that mark everyday life is to think of them as epidemics. Ideas and products and messages and behaviour spread just like virus do.
Why should the Tipping Point be of interest? As a manufacturer or a marketer, you want your product to spread like an epidemic, like what mobile phone did in the early 90s – suddenly everyone you know, including kids were carrying mobile phones. What tipped?
For a society, it is of interest to the health and law enforcer to know how to stop an epidemic from spreading further, like teen smoking, STD, or crime.
I took quite some time to finish the book. Some case histories were interesting enough but some were too detailed.
So can one be successful in curbing or spreading an epidemic after reading the book? My opinion is only if one is very lucky. His book is after all an after-sight. But to conclude, Gladwell says ‘What must underlie successful epidemics is a bedrock belief that change is possible, that people can radically transform their behaviour or beliefs in the face of the right kind of impetus.’