The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, by Malcolm Gladwell

Is this a blueprint to change the world? Malcolm Gladwell certainly feels that the patterns we have seen through the centuries need to be re-examined and he does it with gusto in “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference”. His research and anecdotal evidence certainly seems to hold out some hope that we can actually engineer positive change.

I guess I’m as guilty as most in believing that big changes need big ideas. We would all like to see world peace but the size of the problem always seems to overpower our motivation to even take the first step. Gladwell shows us in staggeringly simple examples how just one person or a few people can start the ripples in the pond. But they need to have the right competencies. Apparently Paul Revere was a Connector and a Maven; he both knew the right people and had a talent for collecting important information and passing it on.

Social history is jam-packed full of examples where Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen (adept at converting the uninformed) have moved an idea to the “Tipping Point”. This is the point at which the idea has a momentum of its own and soon you have a world-wide fashion, fad, idea, notion or even a revolution. The book would make a great work of fiction if it were not completely true. Malcolm Gladwell challenges our preconceptions about many subjects including teenage drug experimentation. He leaves us believing that we can make a difference but, at the same time, “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” casts the depressing shadow of uninvited social engineering.

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