Mitchell Bzdok 0882821
Comm 394: Paper #1
The Tipping Point
Hush Puppies, mavens, Sesame Street, and New York City crime rates; all things that seem to have nothing in common until you look at them in the right context. The one common denominator they all share is they had a tipping point, and are examples of how little things can make a big difference in society. Malcolm Gladwell recognizes this threshold in everyday life, and in the products we use. He sees that a sudden increase in the sales of a shoe can be triggered by only a selective few that decide to wear them while they were unpopular, or how cleaning up the subway system can generate a significant ...view middle of the document...
Mavens are people who have an impulse to help other consumers by making informed decisions and passing on their knowledge. Salesmen are people whose charisma allows them to be extremely persuasive in just about any context, whether it is sales, an opinion on a product, or how much they are willing to pay for a new house. Gladwell identifies a number of examples of past events and trends that depended on the authority or participation of connectors, mavens, and salesmen at a crucial moment in their development at a point where their threshold needs to be exceeded to expand.
The second rule, the stickiness factor, refers to a quality or aspect of a phenomenon that seems to “stick” in a person’s mind and, in turn, change their behavior. A main component of stickiness, as defined by Gladwell, is the fact that it is counterintuitive to conventional thought. The example used were the children’s shows Sesame Street and Blue’s Clues. Sesame Street was produced as a way to teach children literacy techniques. The program was entertaining and creative, but also had a teaching aspect that children did not recognize as learning, it resulted in kids watching the show for enjoyment and also learning how to read and write. Years later, the show Blue’s Clues applied many of the same techniques as Sesame Street, resulting in a program that has been shown through research to generate significant improvements in a child’s logic and reasoning abilities. “Stickiness, Gladwell claims, is often represented as a dramatic divergence from the conventional wisdom of the era.” The children’s appeal to learning through television changed the mindset that learning is accomplished through teaching and lessons in person.
The last rule, the power of context, is described in the text as how mechanisms cause trends that can, theoretically, “tip” into a massive scale change in society. Gladwell cites that many New York City organizations began to point out that the broken windows theory could be reversed and change a New York City crime rate that was in record numbers through the 1980s. By cleaning the subway system, and focusing on those committing petty and misdemeanor crimes the city could change the environment that allowed and promoted larger problems like the use and distribution of crack cocaine. The implementation of cleaning the city and no longer ignoring petty crimes tipped the crime rates into a downward trend that held true through the 1990s.
This book was very intriguing to me in many ways. I never really had the idea the small changes, or ideas could influence a major revolution or philosophy in society. The publication illustrates the social crises’ our world encounter and how it needs to change, The Tipping Point highlights why social changes occur. Gladwell wants his readers to recognize that they can create positive change in a culture and how it becomes contagious to others. He hypothesizes that if negative epidemics can spread, then...