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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As I sit here...
... I found that I could not not review this book. After all, I am currently wearing Hush Puppies, and belong to a major religion that was born out of what Malcolm Gladwell might have described as a 'tipping point' thousands of years ago. In this impulse, Gladwell echoes the words of Margaret Mead, who once said 'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can...
Published on Feb. 21 2006 by FrKurt Messick

versus
51 of 60 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars NETWORK EXTERNALITY? PAY IT FORWARD? NO, TIPPING POINT
Some voracious reading of research on...
(1) "Network externalities" and "network effects" from economics and
(2) WOM (word of mouth) research from social/cognitive psychology
...and shamelessly rehashing them with a doozy touchy-feely spin on "small things can inspire big things" a la "Pay it Forward" (that Helen...
Published on July 18 2003 by Shashank Tripathi


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3.0 out of 5 stars Manipulation 101, July 28 2002
By A Customer
This book goes into the scientific aspects of trends, and how to manipulate the public into "buying it." Basically, it's a PR book with a twist. As a prerequisite, I recommend Michael Levine's "Guerrilla PR" before tackling "Tipping." You will have a better grasp of the concepts in this book with a crash course in PR beforehand.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, July 26 2002
A good source of interesting literature, covering a diverse array of themes, and with a fluid style to match. Nonetheless, I could have given five stars, but disagreed with some of Gladwell's assumptions and conclusions, which I thought were apocryphal. For instance, Gladwell cites research undertaken by a great number of scientists to allegedly 'prove' that the role of one's parents is not as important as the environment in which a person is raised in determining his/her eventual character/personality. Mr. Gladwell, do you think it was a fluke that all the Kennedy men were highly driven, risk takers? Or would you ascribe it to their genetics, as you appear to do in several instances? Mr. Gladwell also mentions that accents of children in homes of immgrants differ from their parents, and therefore, the environment is stronger than the home in which they are raised. Another fallacy Mr. Gladwell. Look at the children of immigrants. Try to take crime statistics of those who live in Harlem and other troubled spots, verses mainstream population. Guess what? There's a difference. Mr. Gladwell himself will agree with this, since he's written about it extensively in other periodicals. I subscribe to the view that this is something which cannot be tested scientifically, and anyone who is familiar with Karl Popper's theories will know what I'm alluding to. Popper asserts that it only takes one scenario that nullifies a hypothesis in order to make a thesis invalid and unscientific. I certainly think education, genetics, parenting, and environment play a role, though one cannot empirically prove which one has a greater influence, and efforts to address one theory will be fallacious from the start.
I also did not appreciate the author's commingling of disparate subjects in a way that makes you wonder whether he's cutting and pasting from previous articles he's written (Mr. Gladwell after all writes for the NewYorker). That, unfortunately, is my suspicion. A case in point is when lessons in crime reduction in New York, are juxtaposed with sales lessons from AirWalk shoes all of which are attempting to answer the reason why epidemics tip.
The concluding chaper and remarks are brilliantly written, with sufficient reminders of the author's central theses, i.e., the Law of the Few, the Stickiness factor, Mavens, etc. People that are new to the idea of the 6 degrees of separation, behavioral psychology, etc., will get an interesting dose of new approaches to understanding how psychology impacts our day-to-day decisions.
Highly recommended, but with some reservation specifically with regard to some conclusions whose accuracy I strongly question.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, July 26 2002
A good source of interesting literature, covering a diverse array of themes, and with a fluid style to match. Nonetheless, I could have given five stars, but disagreed with some of Gladwell's assumptions and conclusions, which I thought were apocryphal. For instance, Gladwell cites research undertaken by a great number of scientists to allegedly 'prove' that the role of one's parents is not as important as the environment in which a person is raised in determining his/her eventual character/personality. Mr. Gladwell, do you think it was a fluke that all the Kennedy men were highly driven, risk takers? Or would you ascribe it to their genetics, as you appear to do in several instances? Mr. Gladwell also mentions that accents of children in homes of immgrants differ from their parents, and therefore, the environment is stronger than the home in which they are raised. Another fallacy Mr. Gladwell. Look at the children of immigrants. Try to take crime statistics of those who live in Harlem and other troubled spots, verses mainstream population. Guess what? There's a difference. Mr. Gladwell himself will agree with this, since he's written about it extensively in other periodicals. I subscribe to the view that this is something which cannot be tested scientifically, and anyone who is familiar with Karl Popper's theories will know what I'm alluding to. Popper asserts that it only takes one scenario that nullifies a hypothesis in order to make a thesis invalid and unscientific. I certainly think education, genetics, parenting, and environment play a role, though one cannot empirically prove which one has a greater influence, and efforts to address one theory will be fallacious from the start.
I also did not appreciate the author's commingling of disparate subjects in a way that makes you wonder whether he's cutting and pasting from previous articles he's written (Mr. Gladwell after all writes for the NewYorker). That, unfortunately, is my suspicion. A case in point is when lessons in crime reduction in New York, are juxtaposed with sales lessons from AirWalk shoes all of which are attempting to answer the reason why epidemics tip.
The concluding chaper and remarks are brilliantly written, with sufficient reminders of the author's central theses, i.e., the Law of the Few, the Stickiness factor, Mavens, etc. People that are new to the idea of the 6 degrees of separation, behavioral psychology, etc., will get an interesting dose of new approaches to understanding how psychology impacts our day-to-day decisions.
Highly recommended, but with some reservation specifically with regard to some conclusions whose accuracy I strongly question.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing read for anyone who's a member of society, July 24 2002
By 
Ravinia (our nation's capital) - See all my reviews
Why do some ideas, products, or styles catch on and suddenly become wildly popular across the country? Gladwell fills his book with true-life examples in an easy to read style. If you've ever wondered what makes something "cool" while something else is "geeky" and why we Americans fickly latch on to trendy things like we do, this work offers some great insights. An absorbing read for anyone who is curious about what makes people make the (sometimes inexplicable) choices they do.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and Somewhat Useful, July 15 2002
By 
Adam Shah (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Malcolm Gladwell wrote The Tipping Point to explain why small things often cause an idea, product, tv show, book, etc. to suddenly become somewhat popular.
Gladwell tells us that epidemics are caused or changed by seemingly small or unrelated things; by epidemics he usually means fads, but sometimes means cultural changes or true epidemics. He says that they are affected by a relatively few number of people (social butterflies, experts and salesmen), the "stickiness factor" (how interesting or contagious the actual thing being transmitted is) and the power of context (external factors).
The best part of the book is Gladwell's writing style. He writes this serious non-fiction book in a very light, conversational, almost stream of consciousness style. While writing about a general topic to explain his points, Gladwell interrupts himself to give anecdotes to support all his points. These anecdotes are always interesting--there is not a single fad or epidemic that he discusses that did not hold my attention--even if they do not always support the larger point he is making.
Therefore, no matter what you think of his arguments, after you read this book, you will be intellectually stimulated and have a lot of information about subjects as random as suicide rates in the South Pacific and Hush Puppies.
The weak point is that Gladwell is obviously overselling the idea that he has come up with something novel. Hard sciences and, in mathematics, chaos theory long ago figured out that little things can make a surprisingly big difference in almost unrelated events. We instinctively know all these things about human society as well. We all know that some people know everyone and transmit their views to everyone they know. We all know that some people are great salesmen or are experts in arcane things and that these people have great influence. We all know in our lives that small almost random tweaks can make the difference between an idea or product succeeding and failing. We've all seen that adding color or changing a pie chart to a bar chart, etc. can make the difference in a presentation for work or that adding or subtracting a character on TV can make the difference (look at what a difference an actress cutting her hair made on the TV show "Felicity").
Nevertheless, Gladwell does a great job of assigning words to all these things that we know by instinct. And we can ignore the fact that he is a classic "salesman" and is trying to make us believe that he has come up with new ideas rather than a new vocabulary and interesting anecdotes.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A useful, provocative book, June 22 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Hardcover)
I picked this book up when I remembered Gladwell's name from some interesting New Yorker articles. As an educational psychologist who studies creativity, I found Gladwell's "theory" to be provocative, especially for an author who doesn't use the scientific jargon. I taught a senior seminar on creativity this spring, and I dusted off my copy of this book and assigned it to the students. They were a high powered group, so I was a bit worried that they would dislike the pop psychology aspect of Gladwell's work. But they loved it -- several wrote on their course evaluations that it was one of the most provocative books they read during their college careers. I think the lesson learned is that (as other reviewers have noted) the material is aimed at a layperson audience, and someone reading it for scientific insight will be disappointed. But the book is a great stimulus for discussion about several points, including (1) how Gladwell's theory compares to research on creativity, (2) the value of jargon-free interpretations of the social sciences, and (3) the veracity of Gladwell's theory and numerous examples. I went in with a reasonable view of the book's usefulness, and I was quite pleased with the result.
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2.0 out of 5 stars How self-promotion and excessive behavior start trends, June 21 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Hardcover)
A book about word-of-mouth and how trends get started? Within the tasteful cover and generously-spaced type, is a sophomoric analysis of social dynamics and their possible influences on generating critical mass.
Praised by so-called literary elite, the book's authoritive prose gives merit to a 'certain point of view' about social behaviour and overall trends. Beneath the fluff is simply an exercise in book publishing and maximizing profit. Save your shekels.
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3.0 out of 5 stars This is a best seller?, June 10 2002
The title and the cover are quite catchy. The book is more sociologically based, with some tidbits on marketing. Discusses the fact that small acts can cause "tipping points" or major change. Not totally convincing but possible. Examples (and patriotic ones at that) are very stretched out and could be more to the point. The book might be of more interest if one is a sociologist and doesn't mind some fluff, but frankly I thought the book was mediocre.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great book as a first reading on the subject, June 6 2002
This book is a very entertaining piece of education and a great incentive to read more on the subject. The style makes it a fast reading book that sticks into your memory.
However, it lacks scientific rigor in many demonstrations and research stays too much on a "personal level" as the author relies more on personal or friends' exemples than on research.
More marketing cases illustrating the "tipping point" would have been a great addition to this book. But it may be up to us, marketers to build these cases !
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4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and Thought Provoking, May 28 2002
This review is from: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Hardcover)
Much like his often published essays in the New Yorker, this book is erudite without being preachy or ostentatious. Gladwell writes with unerring purpose yet infuses everything with his wry humor. The ideas in this book regarding marketing, how an idea or a product turns 'epidemic' are brilliantly thought through and well-illustrated. Not only is this a book about the nature of marketing and 'hype', but it's also a well-considered meditation on public opinion and its nature. Some of Gladwell's attempts to demystify how a small idea or a product can reach its 'tipping point' are less than persuasive, but all in all, this is a book of startling insights and acumens.
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The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell (Hardcover - March 1 2000)
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