The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell — Ch 1

“The idea that epidemics can rise or fall in one dramatic moment…per mits the greatest insight into why modern change happens the way it does. The name given to that one dramatic moment in an epidemic when everything can change all at once is the Tipping Point…The tipping point is the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.”

— Malcolm Gladwell

As an enthusiast of Malcolm Gladwell’s work, I was, as always, impressed with Gladwell’s writing style and research that goes into his works. This quote is the essence of this piece, which is Gladwell’s introduction to his book *The Tipping Point. *The book is an analysis of viral trends and specifically, their tipping points, the points where their “outbreak” suddenly climbs due to some trigger. I was able to relate this piece to something that happened very recently. As a stockholder in Tesla Motors, while the car, the Tesla Model S, was getting lauded in 2012, what suddenly triggered it’s tipping point was Motor Trend Magazine, one of the most popular automobile magazines, named the Tesla Model S as the car of the year in January 2013. Suddenly, everyone wanted it. The Tesla craze spread like a virus. The stock suddenly soared nearly 20%. Even today, the craze is going on. The Tesla founder and CEO, Elon Musk is on the news every other day, sales are up, and the stock price just keeps going up. But in the end, the Tesla “outbreak” all comes down to that one moment, that one decision for Car of the Year, that one tipping point.

The purpose of this piece was to simply introduce the topic of the novel to follow. He started off by giving something for the reader to think about. He gave two examples of situations where a viral outbreak occured, in the sudden popularity of Hush Puppies and the sudden fall in crime in New York City. He then explains the concept of the tipping point and how it is the root of viral outbreaks. Leaving it at that, he prompts the reader to continue reading to understand the tipping points behind the two examples discussed earlier. Being a sociological analysis of a phenomena, the piece is objective and uses a very scientific tone. There are a lot of facts in the text and historical evidence. His style, however, does a good job explaining it in simpler terms. For example, he makes an analogy to a hypothetical biological virus in New York City. He shows the spread of the virus and how the tipping point happens as the season changes and more people us the subway. Suddenly the infection spikes. His writing style using analogies and examples helps give readers a clear understanding of the complicated topics he discusses.