The Tipping Point…

What do Hush Puppies and the fall of crime in New York have in common? Weird combination right? But these things are used by Malcom Gladwell in his book “The Tipping Point” to illustrate how small things can drastically change once they reach a certain point. While Gladwell refers to this as the tipping point…I associated it more with the ripple effect.

Hush Puppies are a type of shoe that have become wildly popular because the brand as a whole reached a tipping point. This brand was originally popular with un-cool people but all it took was one trendsetter to wear the shoes and change the sales and stereotypes associated with it. When designers noticed popular people wearing the shoes they began incorporating the shoes into their fashion shoes where the brand continued to gain popularity (aka it reached it’s max tipping point).

Gladwell continues to prove how the tipping point works by providing information about the decrease in crime in New York. He says the elimination of graffiti on subways was a major cause of the crime decrease…something I would have never thought of. Gladwell says getting rid of the graffiti that often was related to some sort of crime or gang did not have the opportunity to influence people to act violently. How crazy is that!? It didn’t take an arrest, or a stern talking to be the police…but just painting over graffiti to get people to have a moral compass (now if we can just figure out the Middle East).

While it seems that all it takes is for one person making a change to make big changes Gladwell uses Paul Revere’s infamous ride to negate this notion. While Revere was able to change the course of history by telling one person who told another person who told another that the British were coming Gladwell emphasizes the need for collective change to really make a difference. By using multiple examples and providing vital statistics Gladwell clearly illustrates just how strongly he believes that two are better than one…especially when you desire a change. And I have to agree with him. The more people you have on your side the more changes and results you will see.

Malcom Gladwell, Author of "The Tipping Point" and Staff Writer for New York Magazine

Overall I think the book was interesting. Gladwell’s flow is good and his points are excellent. He really gives you things to think about. The only negative thing I can say about the book is that there are a lot of statistics (which I try and avoid at all times). Me and numbers do not generally get along well so it was a little hard for me to keep up with some of the points he was trying to make when he used numbers (because I HATE numbers). But if you like to have something to think about, like numbers, and like a little controversy then “The Tipping Point” is a good one for you to check out! (On a side note…I found this book at the Borders in Gainesville that is going out of business. I know there are a lot of Borders closing their doors so you can probably find it for a really reasonable price!) =)

Don’t Make Me Think

While I have not been at Starbucks, or school, or some sort of news station I have had the chance to read Steve Krug’s “Don’t Make Me Think.” The book details the ways people use the web, the patterns associated with their usage, and ways for producers of web pages to organize their content more efficiently. Being new to the blogging scene I found this book to be particularly useful.

Some interesting concepts, “The Facts of Life” presented in the book can be found in Chapter Two.  These facts address the ways in which users really use the web, which is completely different from the way web designers wish they would. My favorite fact was Fact #2: “We Don’t Make Optimal Choices. We Satisfice.”  Basically, we muddle through content because we are lazy, we don’t get punished for clicking on the wrong link, and guessing is more fun. I found this amusing because I can remember specific instances when I have just clicked or Googled random things just to see what fun fact I could find on the Internet.

Being that I am a telecommunications major and have had simple sentence structure drilled into my head for the past three years, I also found it interesting that Krug recommends using as little words as possible when writing for the web. Getting rid of words that do not add meaning to a sentence and just add to the word count on a page should be avoided at all times! While this seems like common sense it is surprising to see all of the word-clutter present on web pages. My biggest pet-peeve concerning this concept is the use of the word “that.” My newsroom producers have trained me to omit this word as often as possible. When writing and using this word try taking it out of the sentence and you will see that often times you can take it out of the sentence and it will still make sense!

While these two paragraphs only address very minor details of the book there is also so much more…like information on a usability test, fixing your homepage, helping your coworkers use the internet, and so much more…but I will leave that for you to explore. =) All I can say is that I really did enjoy reading this book. It was an easy read and very applicable, which was the main goal of Krug’s while he was writing it. I also liked it because Krug has my dream job…being an Internet consultant.

In the future I hope to attain my Master’s degree in interactive media and visual language with hope to one day help people tell their stories on the web more effectively. Krug’s book gave me insight into the field I one day hope to enter and a lot of advice that will benefit my future. I feel that reading this book will not only add to knowledge for my schoolwork now, but also help me in my professional career in the near future.