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The three rules of epidemicsGladwell describes the "three rules of epidemics" (or the three "agents of change") in the tip...
OutliersOutliers has two parts: "Part One: Opportunity" contains five chapters, and "Part Two: Legacy" has four.The book a...
Gladwell argues that Oppenheimers affluent background helped give him the                              skills necessary to...
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The three rules of epidemics


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Uittreksel van Malcolm Gladwell boeken over Innovatie

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The three rules of epidemics

  1. 1. The three rules of epidemicsGladwell describes the "three rules of epidemics" (or the three "agents of change") in the tipping points ofepidemics. "The Law of the Few", or, as Gladwell states, "The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts." According to Gladwell, economists call this the "80/20 Principle, which is the idea that in any situation roughly 80 percent of the work will be done by 20 percent of the participants." (see Pareto Principle) These people are described in the following ways: Connectors are the people who "link us up with the world ... people with a special gift for bringing the world together." They are "a handful of people with a truly extraordinary knack [... for] making friends and acquaintances". He characterizes these individuals as having social networks of over one hundred people. To illustrate, Gladwell cites the following examples: the midnight ride of Paul Revere, Milgrams experiments in the small world problem, the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" trivia game, Dallas businessman Roger Horchow, and Chicagoan Lois Weisberg, a person who understands the concept of the weak tie. Gladwell attributes the social success of Connectors to "their ability to span many different worlds [... as] a function of something intrinsic to their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy." Mavens are "information specialists", or "people we rely upon to connect us with new information." They accumulate knowledge, especially about the marketplace, and know how to share it with others. Gladwell cites Mark Alpert as a prototypical Maven who is "almost pathologically helpful", further adding, "he cant help himself". In this vein, Alpert himself concedes, "A Maven is someone who wants to solve other peoples problems, generally by solving his own". According to Gladwell, Mavens start "word-of-mouth epidemics" due to their knowledge, social skills, and ability to communicate. As Gladwell states, "Mavens are really information brokers, sharing and trading what they know". Salesmen are "persuaders", charismatic people with powerful negotiation skills. They tend to have an indefinable trait that goes beyond what they say, which makes others want to agree with them. Gladwells examples include California businessman Tom Gau and news anchor Peter Jennings, and he cites several studies about the persuasive implications of non-verbal cues, including a headphone nod study (conducted by Gary Wells of the University of Alberta and Richard Petty of the University of Missouri) and William Condons cultural microrhythms study. The Stickiness Factor, the specific content of a message that renders its impact memorable. Popular childrens television programs such as Sesame Street and Blues Clues pioneered the properties of the stickiness factor, thus enhancing the effective retention of the educational content in tandem with its entertainment value. The Power of Context: Human behavior is sensitive to and strongly influenced by its environment. As Gladwell says, "Epidemics are sensitive to the conditions and circumstances of the times and places in which they occur." For example, "zero tolerance" efforts to combat minor crimes such as fare-beating and vandalism on the New York subway led to a decline in more violent crimes city- wide. Gladwell describes the bystander effect, and explains how Dunbars number plays into the tipping point, using Rebecca Wells novel Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, evangelist John Wesley, and the high-tech firm W. L. Gore and Associates. Gladwell also discusses what he dubs the rule of 150, which states that the optimal number of individuals in a society that someone can have real social relationships with is 150. 1
  2. 2. OutliersOutliers has two parts: "Part One: Opportunity" contains five chapters, and "Part Two: Legacy" has four.The book also contains an Introduction and Epilogue. Focusing on outliers, defined by Gladwell as peoplewho do not fit into our normal understanding of achievement, Outliers deals with exceptional people,especially those who are smart, rich, and successful, and those who operate at the extreme outer edge ofwhat is statistically possible. The book offers examples that include the musical ensemble The Beatles,Microsofts co-founder Bill Gates, and the theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer. In the introduction,Gladwell lays out the purpose of Outliers: "Its not enough to ask what successful people are like. [...] It isonly by asking where they are from that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesnt."Throughout the publication, he discusses how family, culture, and friendship each play a role in anindividuals success, and he constantly asks whether successful people deserve the praise that we give them.The book begins with Gladwells research on why a disproportionate number of elite Canadian hockeyplayers are born in the first few months of the calendar year. The answer, he points out, is that since youthhockey leagues determine eligibility by calendar year, children born on January 1 play in the same league asthose born on December 31 in the same year. Because children born earlier in the year are bigger andmaturer than their younger competitors, they are often identified as better athletes, leading to extra coachingand a higher likelihood of being selected for elite hockey leagues. This phenomenon in which "the rich getricher and the poor get poorer" is dubbed "accumulative advantage" by Gladwell, while sociologist RobertK. Merton calls it "the Matthew Effect", named after a biblical verse in the Gospel of Matthew: "For untoeveryone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance. But from him that hath not shall be takenaway even that which he hath." Outliers asserts that success depends on the idiosyncrasies of the selectionprocess used to identify talent just as much as it does on the athletes natural abilities. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell interviews Bill Gates and focuses on the opportunities given to him throughout his lifetime that have led to his success. A common theme that appears throughout Outliers is the "10,000-Hour Rule", based on a study by Anders Ericsson. Gladwell claims that greatness requires enormous time, using the source of The Beatles musical talents and Gates computer savvy as examples. The Beatles performed live in Hamburg, Germany over 1,200 times from 1960 to 1964, amassing more than 10,000 hours of playing time, thereforemeeting the 10,000-Hour Rule. Gladwell asserts that all of the time The Beatles spent performing shapedtheir talent, "so by the time they returned to England from Hamburg, Germany, they sounded like no oneelse. It was the making of them." Gates met the 10,000-Hour Rule when he gained access to a high schoolcomputer in 1968 at the age of 13, and spent 10,000 hours programming on it.In Outliers, Gladwell interviews Gates, who says that unique access to a computer at a time when they werenot commonplace helped him succeed. Without that access, Gladwell states that Gates would still be "ahighly intelligent, driven, charming person and a successful professional", but that he might not be worthUS$50 billion. Gladwell explains that reaching the 10,000-Hour Rule, which he considers the key to successin any field, is simply a matter of practicing a specific task that can be accomplished with 20 hours of work aweek for 10 years. He also notes that he himself took exactly 10 years to meet the 10,000-Hour Rule, duringhis brief tenure at The American Spectator and his more recent job at The Washington Post. 2
  3. 3. Gladwell argues that Oppenheimers affluent background helped give him the skills necessary to become successful. Reemphasizing his theme, Gladwell continuously reminds the reader that genius is not the only or even the most important thing when determining a persons success. Using an anecdote to illustrate his claim, he discusses the story of Christopher Langan, a man who ended up working on a horse farm in rural Missouri despite having an IQ of 195 (Einsteins was 150). Gladwell points out that Langan has not reached a high level of success because of the environment he grew up in. With no one in Langans life and nothing in his background to help him take advantage of his exceptional gifts, he had to find success by himself. "No one—not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses—ever makes it alone," writes Gladwell. Later, Gladwell compares Langan with Oppenheimer, the father of the atomicbomb. Noting that they typify innate natural abilities that should have helped them both succeed in life,Gladwell argues that Oppenheimers upbringing made a pivotal difference in his life. Oppenheimer grew upin one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Manhattan, was the son of a successful businessman and painter,attended the Ethical Culture Fieldston School on Central Park West, and was afforded a childhood ofconcerted cultivation. Outliers argues that these opportunities gave Oppenheimer the chance to develop thepractical intelligence necessary for success. Gladwell then provides an anecdote: When Oppenheimer was astudent at University of Cambridge, he made an unsuccessful attempt to poison one of his tutors. When hewas about to be expelled from the school, he was able to compromise with the schools administrators toallow him to continue his studies at the university, using skills that he gained during his cultivatedupbringing.Before the book concludes, Gladwell writes about the unique roots of his Jamaican mother, Joyce, adescendant of African slaves. Joyce attended University College in London, where she met and fell in lovewith Graham Gladwell, a young mathematician. After moving together to Canada, Graham became a mathprofessor and Joyce a writer and therapist. While Gladwell acknowledges his mothers ambition andintelligence, he also points out opportunities offered to his parents that helped them live a life better thanthose of other slave descendants in the West Indies. Gladwell also explains that, in the 18th century, a whiteplantation owner in Jamaica bought a female slave and made her his mistress. This act inadvertently savedthe slave and her offspring from a life of brutal servitude. As one of the slaves descendants, this turn of luckled to Gladwells relatively successful position in life. Summarizing the publication, Gladwell notes thatsuccess "is not exceptional or mysterious. It is grounded in a web of advantages and inheritances, somedeserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky," and at the end of the book, he remarks, "Outlierswasnt intended as autobiography. But you could read it as an extended apology for my success." 3