Mary Beth Writes

If you are fascinated by how ideas ripple through human communities – you probably already read Malcom Gladwell. If not, check him out. http://gladwell.com/ He is a fascinating thinker and writer.

He wrote The Tipping Point in 2000. I bought it at Goodwill a couple months ago. A lot is dated; this book is pre-smartphones! That said, The Tipping Point is really good!

Why do you know who Paul Revere is but not William Dawson?  Why was Sesame Street more popular than any kid show that preceded it – but then Blues Clues was even MORE popular? NYC in the middle 1980’s had one of the highest crime rates in the country. They made some changes that affected comparatively few people, yet the crime rate fell. How did that all happen?

Why do some good writers “hit it big” and become best-selling authors while others, just as fine, burble along beneath the radar?  (Inquiring minds want to know…)

Lulu

Gladwell want to determine where the “sticking point” of a movement happens. To analyze this he suggests we look at three “rules”.

1.The Rule of the Few. Ideas start when a few particular people latch onto them. Who are these trendsetters that start things? Gladwell dives into describing people who are CONNECTORS – people who know a LOT of people, who are a part of a LOT of varied groups. Think of a gregarious friend who has a job in one industry, goes to a bustling church, is active in a community organization, belongs to a sailing club, and goes to occasional conferences or meetings for a political cause. That person is comfortable around people- and knows a LOT of them. He or she is a connector.

MAVENS are humans who know a whole lot about some subjects and they want to share their knowledge with you. They are at the leading edge in the subjects they care about. SALESMEN (I’m sure 17 years later Gladwell would find a way for this to not be a masculine designation) are fascinatingly gifted at convincing you to do things their way. There is an intriguing section in the book explicating the research into what makes us want to do what someone else tells us to do. It comes down to micro-tips of the head and shoulders, inflections in the voice, length of eye contact. Much of it seems almost instinctual but it is very, very powerful.

Lulu

2. The Rule of Stickiness. Ideas are everywhere. Why do some TV shows, stories, ideas, fads, and candidates “stick”? “STICKINESS SAYS THERE ARE SPECIFIC WAYS OF MAKING A CONTAGIOUS MESSAGE MEMORABLE”

He explicates at length how Sesame Street succeeded, and then why the incredibly boring Blues Clues became even more popular. He says this. “Kids don’t watch when they are stimulated and look away when they are bored. They watch when they understand and look away when they are confused.”  Pg 102

Stickiness is hitting people exactly where their interest and comprehension resides, then building on and repeating that concept until the kid – or the voter – or whomever we are trying to influence –understands the message and is ready to take in additional thoughts that bolster and compliment it.

Consider religious scriptures. All of them can be read as a child and they will make some sense. But they are intriguing enough that they can be read and studied over and over and over. They have a “stickiness” that keeps one engaged.

Look at the ideas around us that have “stickiness”.

Lulu

3. THE POWER OF CONTEXT. We are more likely to accept ideas that come to us in certain environments and sizes. Mid-1980’s NYC attacked graffiti. Many people criticized this as ‘small potatoes’ compared to the violent crimes holding the city hostage. Yet that deliberate goal (with other things, not just the graffiti-eradication) made the subway system appear more welcoming. So more people rode it. Which made it safer.

Our human brains seem designed - not learn everything we need to know to live effectively - but to learn WHO knows this and WHO knows that. We use each other as mutual libraries of knowledge and skills. It’s one of the background reasons why people who lose a partner feel depression – they lost access to half of what they used to know. This is documentable and interesting.  (Len was gone two days last week and as is true when he’s not around, I felt like a tripod that lost a foot.)

The accommodation we make to utilizing each other’s gifts and expertise has an outside limit; we do best in groups of about 150 people. Once again, Gladwell presents the research that explains why this size works with our brains. But consider it anecdotally. What groups have been most exciting, energizing, and productive for you in your life? Companies of 150 people, where you knew almost everyone? Your church?

I think Racine County AAUW is a somewhat famous as one of the most active AAUW’s in the country. I also think if I heard correctly, that it has about 150 members. (Among the goals it accomplishes very year is raising thousands of dollars for local and national scholarships for women. And since we are here – look in my ad column; the Racine AAUW book sale is going on this and next weekend! I bet you can find Malcom Gladwell there!)

If you care about analyzing or affecting society, The Tipping Point is an interesting read. 

Lulu

Tags

Comments

Thanks for including the AAUW Book Sale in your column and ad. The sale will be better than ever this time. Tons of books and so well organized. I appreciate your book reviews.

This is going in my bullet! On my list of what to read.

That's a beautiful cat you feature so prominently with this book review.
Mary Beth's picture

That is our Lulu, and since I am (yay!) getting new readers who do not know the Tale of Lulu, I will write her story within the next few weeks. Lulu is the shyest cat I've ever known. If she knew I put her photo in this website, she would have to hide in the basement for a week....

Add new comment

CAPTCHA

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Ricky

8/7/2022

My step-grandmother Ricky ate an apple every night. She’d sit on her bed, lean against the headboard, then chomp the apple after which she would remove her false teeth and lay down to sleep.

I haven’t really thought about Ricky in years but this week for no identifiable reason (because we were talking about unsung aspects of our lives?) I dreamed about her. I awoke one morning seeing her face as she stood in her dining room chatting with my mom and me. Ergo, I started thinking about her.

What's Ordinary in Your World?

This train photo is not cribbed from anywhere. It's a Genuine Leonardo. 

8/1/2022

Hello and how are you? I am writing less and less as Len and I meander around to doctors, specialists, dentists, and that way-too-early appointment at the endodontist. (So far, we are fine.) The irony being that most of what we are attending to are the side effects of medications prescribed for stuff that didn’t hurt and we didn’t even know we had.

A Quiet Week

The cat in the picture is my daughter's cat, Nancy. Sometimes we all just need a quiet place to slow down and think.

7/23/2022

What's going right in your world?

7/11/2022

My teeth again. Argh. This past week I’ve had a jaw ache/toothache that got worse instead of better. Today my dentist said I need a crown but also that’s not the thing that is causing the swelling and infection and ache. I now have an Rx for an antibiotic and an appointment for that crown and an appointment with an endodontist to get an Xray worthy of NASA.

Memory & Consequences

7/7/2022

To remember hard stories truthfully requires bravery.

WHITE CAKE!

The picture is our wedding cake, made by my friend Karen, who drove it from Indiana to Chicago on the hottest day of that year. It was in the back seat so their two little boys had to ride in front (remember when kids could ride in front?). They got lost in the city but I didn't know that for years because Karen and her husband start early and had time to get lost and then figure it out. Sometimes wedded bliss is a lot of work. 

The following story and recipe is not about the wedding cake, but it is the photo I have...

...

6/30/2022

Tag Cloud

9/11 17 minutes 500 Words AARPtaxes AAUW abortion Acadia accident Accountable Advent anniversary antlers apples appointments Arrows art Ashland August Augustine baby Badlands balance Baldwin Barkskins Beauty Becky Becoming Esther Berry birthday bistro BLM BookReport books boy scout Bread BrokenDays BuyAngry Cabeza de Vaca Cahokia calendars Canada canoe cat romance cats cello Chicago China Choosing Christmas cilantro Cinnabuns circus clouds Clowns clutter Colonialism comet ComfortZone CommonSense community consumerism Cops Corvid-19 Courage Covid-19 Crazy creditreport creosote CrimeShows death Debate December DecisionFatigue decluttering democracy dentist depression Destination Today Detroit Didion disasterprep dogs dollhouse Dreams Duty Easter eBay Eclipse EmilyDickinson eschatology Esquipulas exit polls eyes Fable FairTrade family farmer firealarm Fitness Five Flexible flu Fort de Chartres frame Franc FrancGarcia friends frugal Frugality frustration Ft.Ticonderoga Gannets Garden GarfieldParkConservatory Gaspe genius geode GeorgeFloyd gerrymandering ghosts gifts girls gorgons GovernorThompsonStatePark Graduation granola groceries Guatemala gum guns happiness HaveYouEver? hawks healthcare Healthinsurance hearings heart HelleKBerry heroes hike History home HomeRepair Honduras Hope hurricane impeachment Innkeeper Instincts integrity InternetPrivacy Interview InviteMe2Speak James Baldwin Jan 6 Janus JoyceAndrews Judy JulianofNorwich justice Karen Lamb LangstonHuges LaphamPeak laundry LeeLeeMcKnight lemming Len Light Lincoln Little Women LockedOut Loki loneliness Love Ludington Macaw macho Manitoulin MargaretFuller Maria Hamilton Marquette marriage Marsden Hartley masks Mayan MayaWorks meme Memories men Middlemarch MilesWallyDiego MindfulChickens Mistakes MLK moon Mother MothersDay mouser movies museums must-haves Mustapha Nancy Drew New Mexico New York City Nomadland Ocotillo OnaJudge ordinary OscarRomero osprey Outside oximeter Parade mayhem PastorBettyRendon Paul Hessert PDQ Penny persimmon photos Pi Pies pineapples poetry Preaching privacy Protest Quern quest Questions Rabbit holes racism recipe recipes recommendations Remember RepresentationMatters Reruns responsetoKapenga Retirement rhubarb Ricky rime RitesofPassage Rosemary Ruether Roses Ruth SamaritanWoman Sanctuary Sandhillcranes Santuario de Chimayo SaraRodriguez sculpture Sermon ServantsoftheQuest sewing Shepherd Shontay ShortStory shoulder sick sickness Slower snow Social Security SofritoBandito solstice South Dakota SpaceShuttle spring square feet staining stele Stereotypes StoryStarts stress Survival swim taxes teenager thankgsgiving Thanksgiving TheBridge TheMaid ThePerpetualYou ThreeBillBoards Three Things ThreeThings TidalBore TimeBeing toddler Tom tortillas Trains travel Traveler Tubing turtle Twilight Bark Tyrone Ukraine UnrelatedObservations Up North urgency vacation vaccine Valentines vanilla Vietnam VivianWokeUpDrowning vole volunteer WalkingAndSeeing Wampanaog war WarsanShire weather weaving wedding whines WhyAttendChurch Willa WillaCather Wisteria
Ad Promotion