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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

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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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51 of 60 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars NETWORK EXTERNALITY? PAY IT FORWARD? NO, TIPPING POINT, July 18 2003
By 
Shashank Tripathi (Gadabout) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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 Hunt/Kevin Spacey rigmarole) -- and lo and behold, you have a tipping point for a book that people are stomping over each other to buy and magically provoke their thinking about marketing or sociological phenomena.
Indeed every once in a while we need a business book that summarizes and makes sense of all that goes on in academia, so even such blatant intellectual debauchery would be fine as long as the BASIC professional integrity of attribution was upheld. The very least one can expect from such a self-proclaimed "biography of an idea" endeavour is an honest acknowledgement of WHERE the idea came from.
As though it was not embarrassing enough that epithets like "maven" and "connector" are well established in WOM or network externality research since nearly 20 years, we were also fed with the MOST commonly used illustrations -- faxes becoming important because other people had faxes, or some quaint fashion catching up overnight (Hush Puppies in this case, but it could be any number of things), or how broadband has swept our world, or the success of a TV show -- these are all primetime textbook examples to explain the very fundamental concepts of network externality in ECON 101. Some arcane mention of epidemiologists' theories does not count because the whole hypothesis here is to provide something that is "beyond the world of medicine and diseases". Not one mention of the "Network Externality" in the book or in the glossary at the end.
To its minor credit, the book is written with a readable flow although expect to have each and every minutiae explained in a "for dummies" style. For e.g., the perfectly simple notion that yawning is visually and aurally contagious is explained over 2 pages of relatively small print with about 100 mentions of the word yawn. Yawn. Such excruciating fleshing out of material is understandable of course, given how little of substance there really was in this "thinking" to begin with.
The text wallows in its conflicting logical morass. Remember, "small things" are supposed to make a big difference. A winding 40 pages are devoted to crime combat in NY under a newly appointed police chief. Forgive me if this concerted annual effort by a legitimate full-fledged police force does NOT sound like a "small thing" to me.
We are told "What must underlie successful epidemics is a bedrock belief that change is possible". Unfortunately, all the examples Gladwell cites such as a sweeping shoe vogue, faxes becoming popular -- these are all a matter of happenstance instead of a concerted effort by individuals at a point in time. Such is indeed the true nature of contagious phenomenons as he himself mentions at the outset, there is no "bedrock belief" until afterwards when someone sits and analyzes the event. I could also hypothesize that a lot of these mini-revolutions happen when an optimal chain of events is accidentally (unintentionally) spurred on by some triggers in society/environment etc, but that is for another day.
As though this were not enough we are treated to semi-pompous implications. For e.g., page 131: "There is something PROFOUNDLY counter-intuitive in the definition of stickiness that emerges from all these examples". Really? Would have been nice if it were apparent instead of having us hit on the head with it.
Come to think of it a "big effect" is a pretty flaky/subjective concept anyway. How could this supposed big effect be sustained? Where are hush puppies now? As for NY's crime rate, many experts such as Andrew Karmen from CUNY (John Jay) believe that the drop in crime rates in NY in 1980s or 90s is insignificant, homicides in the city have risen 10-fold since 1950. How about faxes -- and their big effect being eaten by another big effect (email)?
What is most piquing though is that in a round-about way we are offered Polyanna solutions as a result of this 3-pronged theory of network externality. One priceless gem emerges when we are convinced how cleaning a subway system would be enough to solve crime rates (with the Bernie Goetz case as a lynchpin). My retorts won't fit this review.
Whether this is a legitimate business book or a mere avante-garde coffee table thoughtpiece, one would have at the least expected some sort of an organized framework to plan for these "small things" or to sustain the "big effects". None is forthcoming. As for me, the very fact that well-established research is packaged here in a 250-page drawl as a pretentiously seminal idea is quite a put-off in itself. A simple 5-6 page HBR article would have done the job just fine, but then that wouldn't make a lot of money for Gladwell, would it.
If you are in business and hope to use this stuff for a spiral marketing/branding effort, you'd do a lot better getting your hands on some WOM literature than this inchoate theoretical indulgence.
Highly over-rated material, this.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars No analysis, just amusing stories, Dec 17 2003
By 
J. J. Baker-bates (London, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Paperback)
This book is presented as an explanation of what it is that might cause something to go from insignificance to ubiquity. It in fact does nothing of the sort and is actually just an amusing collection of stories.
It is well written as a social history, and has a light, journalistic style good for dipping into, but the reader is left absolutely none the wiser as to why any of it happened. I would therefore class it as pretty much a waste of anyone's time.
One thing that particularly annoyed me about this book is that chaos theory - a branch of mathematics almost 40 years old, for the analysis and prediction of exactly the sort of thing this book is wondering about - is mentioned only once: as a footnote.
That's like writing a book about why planets stay in orbit around the sun, and mentioning astrophysics as an aside.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but Outdated, Jan. 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.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As I sit here..., Feb. 21 2006
By 
FrKurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (Bloomington, IN USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Paperback)
... 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 change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.' This is the tipping point principle.
Gladwell's writing style is up-beat and popular - he is a staff writer for the New Yorker, and that style is clearly present in his writing here. Thus, those who appreciate the New Yorker will tend to like this book; those who don't, won't. Gladwell occasionally plays a bit loose with the documentation, and relies much more an anecdotal and consensus opinions than necessarily getting strong, documented proof. Then again, with a principle like the tipping point, this might not be the most important thing in any event - any hard, cold statistical data of the early Christian movement might have dismissed this wandering band of a dozen troublemakers as insignificant.
Some of Gladwell's conclusions are likewise problematic, again based on a more intuitive approach that will appeal to some and not to others. In particular, I would question his liberality of accepting drug use; while one might agree that the war on drugs goes in directions that are less helpful while other problems loom large, I'm not convinced (nor does Gladwell's argument seem very strong in this direction) that permitting or encouraging children this experience is the best course.
Some have begun describing the recent Hurricane Katrina disaster as a tipping point for the economy, but whether this will be a tipping point for good or bad, one cannot say. It is a sad fact of history that often disasters and wars are followed by periods of economic boom.
The term 'tipping point' actually comes from epidemiology, to describe the point at which virus and other infectious agents reach a critical mass sufficient to become an epidemic. The problem with this is that different viral and infectious agents have different tipping points given different conditions, so the idea of universally applying the concept of the tipping point becomes rather like the idea of the hundredth monkey, the idea in social consciousness construction that there is some sort of paradigm shift or mysterious shift in general thought and behaviour once it reaches a critical mass of people.
Do other people wear Hush Puppies now because I have doggedly insisted upon wearing mine since the 1970s (not the same pair, mind you)? Why did they fade out of fashion only to come back in? These are the kinds of issues that the tipping point cannot explain.
This is an interesting text, but more as an intellectual sideline rather than a serious attempt at formulating a universal principle of social behaviour.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Read, April 23 2014
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This review is from: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Paperback)
Like the other Malcolm Gladwell books that I have read (Yes, I read his works out of order), this one was well written, interesting, and thoughtful. I would certainly recommend it to a friend.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Malcolm Gladwell takes fresh look at facts., April 16 2014
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This review is from: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Paperback)
I have enjoyed every one of Gladwell's books. He has a way of taking a second look at society and coming up with a unique perspective on social trends and conclusions.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Gift, March 15 2014
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This review is from: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Paperback)
I bought Malcolm Gladwell's book "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference" (year 2000) as a gift for a friend. He really liked this book. He read it through cover to cover almost without stopping. Malcolm Gladwell's book is a real page turner. This is quite an accomplishment for an intellectual work of non-fiction. My friend went on to read almost every one of Malcolm Gladwell's other books. He really admires the mind and wit of Malcolm Gladwell.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Feb. 20 2013
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This review is from: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Paperback)
It has given me new ways to look at old patterns that I have observed .... His organization and examples help me retain the concepts
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16 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does not disappoint., Sept. 23 2006
This review is from: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Paperback)
The book is about the "tipping point", that is, that moment when an idea or social behaviour has reached a level where it "tips" and spreads like crazy.

The book makes sense about how these things happen by using three rules- The Law of the Few, The Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context. Taking three rules, then, the book uses them to explain seemingly puzzling epidemic situations in society such as teen smoking or bestsellers.

Fun and interesting, if this kind of topic appeals to you, you'll like the book- its well written and an easy read. Other books that might appeal to general interest readers include The Sixty-Second Motivator
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Tiresome and Repetitive, July 4 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Paperback)
Tipping Point is a painful book to read, painful especially to contemplate the patchwork of fill that turns what at best is a pop magazine article into a poor excuse for a book. Gladwell stabs at any theme he can possibly use to support his by no means new theory of tipping points. He hits one, perhaps, when he covers Rudy Giuliani's results in the City of New York, buts the rest are paler attempts. His comparison of Paul Revere with Dawes is over-romantic and downright silly. There's something profoundly patronizing about his tone of writing and his lack of any kind of wit.
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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 (Paperback - Jan. 7 2002)
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