by John Stoehr
Gladwell, a staff writer for The New Yorker, is one of my favorites for this simple reason: He's clear as glass. His Tipping Point and Blink are models of writerly clarity and precision. Gladwell is a fascinating writer because he talks about the relationship between things that at first seem to have no relationship at all.
In Tipping Point, he used the movement pattern of epidemics to explain how ideas take root and grow in society. In Blink, he wrote about the deep psychology behind snap judgments and first impressions, the power of the mind that comes from not thinking. It should be said that Tipping Point is the stronger, more influential of the two books. It's the reason so many PR flacks talk about "viral marketing" and whatnot. That "viral" comes from being persuaded by Gladwell's use of the epidemic model to explain how ideas spread and hence, when it comes to business, how the idea of brands can spread and take hold in the minds of consumers.
For Your Daily Vid, Gladwell give a lecture at the 2004 TED (which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conference, a yearly gathering of thinkers and culture-makers that anyone who cares about ideas should get to know. Other speakers have included Chris Anderson (The Long Tail), Steven Pinker (The Stuff of Thought) and Barry Schwartz (The Paradox of Choice). Remember that Gladwell lumps two things that you didn't think would ever go together. Here he talks about what businesses can learn from spaghetti sauce.