Tuesday, 30 September 2008

The Tipping Point...

The Tipping Point was a very surprising book which explains and analysis the way ideas and social trends go from a normal level to epidemic proportions. I never really expected that it would have been so interesting or relevent to my subject.

What I really found interesting was Chapter Two - The Law of the Few: Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen, in which Gladwell discusses the different personalities that aid the progression of social trends to the point where they tip.

Connectors are people who have that special nack of bringing everyone together. The seem to know everyone which leads to a wider social grouping and the spread of information.

The example Gladwell gives of this is the six degrees of Kevin Bacon, a game where you have to connect him to any other actor in 6 movies or fewer...for example (as Walk the Line is about to come on the TV) Joaquim Phoenix to Kevin Bacon:

Joaquim Phoenix [Quills] Geoffry Rush [Pirates of the Carribean] Johnny Depp [Benny & Joon] Oliver Platt [Flatliners] Kevin Bacon

Easy peasy...although I've now thought how to do it in fewer :

Joaquin Phoenix [To Die For] Matt Dillon [Wild Things] Kevin Bacon

This pop-culture reference makes a good example of connectors because everyone knows who Kevin Bacon is, and could play along, it's interesting though when you consider your own social grouping and thinking about the important connectors within them.

The next term, Mavens, are founts of knowledge. These people absorb information and want to solve problems by passing it on for the benefit of others. They repeat the information they learn because they simply can't hold onto the it. They enjoy learning and they enjoy educating people as they go. Salesmen on the other hand are persuaders, they convince us of the importance of something that we are generally skeptical of through their personality and the way they express themselves.

In our lecture today, Jonathan Baldwin asked the M.Des students which category they fitten into, were they a connector, a maven or a salesman? I don't know what I am, but the book has certainly made me think differently about the way in which the design world works.

[Oh and I'm certainly not a salesman after that disasterous presentation!]

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