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Interesting but Outdated
on January 9, 2012
There are two observations that need to be made at the outset of this review:
1. I read this book after reading "Outliers" and so I expected to be 'wowed' in much the same manner; which I wasn't. Having said that, however, I still found the book to be quite interesting, as much of the information presented a novel (at least to me) way of looking at what happens around me.
2. How can I say a book that's barely 12 years old is "outdated"? Well this was written before the advent of facebook, twitter, texting, blogs (at least as we know them today), and, in fact, the internet as it is today. Which leads to Gladwell making an illustration that now seems laughable: A "connector" faxing his friends to tell them about a great restaurant. Yeah, faxing. So I say this book seems outdated simply because the "word of mouth" phenomena has drastically changed. I'm sure all of us have a relatively HUGE sphere of influence through facebook, amazon reviews, etc. that just didn't exist when this book was written. So bear in mind, we live in a vastly different world than that to which Gladwell was writing.
As to the specific content of this book, Gladwell has it broken up into 8 chapters, which could really be just 2 sections:
1. What it takes to have a "social epidemic" and 2. "Case Studies".
In the first section he talks about the type of people that must be involved in social epidemics; namely "connectors" (who bring people together), "Mavens" (who bring information to the people) and "Salesmen" (who make us love it). The first section also deals with "stickiness", a characteristic of social epidemics that I can best liken to the part of a song that gets stuck in your head. It's that something that makes it unforgettable and makes you keep coming back. And lastly, he deals with the intrinsic part that "context" plays in the microcosm of social epidemics.
In the second section, as would be expected, we see examples of all of these 'necessities' working in concert to bring about "social epidemics".
All things considered; I enjoyed reading this book, as I enjoy reading anything that puts new thoughts into my head, but it just ins't as captivating or relevant as I had hoped.