Thursday, July 05, 2007

Tipping Point

Just finished perusing Malcolm Gladwell's "Tipping Point," and although most of it involves Gladwell rambling about his informal social theories of How the World Works via certain historical psychology studies and other anecdotal pop culture evidence, there were some interesting points raised (betcha didn't see that conclusion coming). Generally, Gladwell can get away with shooting the bull for an entire novel because of his engaging, seductive writing style that pulls you into an instructive, pseudo-intellectual, albeit one-sided conversation.

The most applicable points for me:

1) Studies have found that the amount of neocortex observed in each species is proportional to the number of social relationships that must be maintained in a group of primates. For instance, if you are a primate who lives in a group of 5 individuals, you have to keep track of your social relationships with the 4 other primates and the relationships that the 4 other primates have with each other. Gladwell's informal Rule of 150 argues that most human societies have found by trial and error that humans can only maintain a level of personal connection with groups as large as 150, at which point social cohesiveness drops off dramatically. The first thing that occured to me was that UCSF's medical school class consists of 141 that a coincidence?

2) Gladwell likes to make up artificial designations, describing certain influential individuals as Connectors (people who know -everyone-), Mavens (people who are passionate about knowing practical things like how to get the best bed, etc.), and Salesmen (people who can sell you any idea or object). Funny thing is, reading descriptions of the Mavens made me realize that several people who mean a lot to me are prototypical Mavens who will do anything to get the best foie gras, the greatest travel deals, etc. And they love to share their knowledge and expertise.

Okay, time for bed. :-)

No comments: