Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Friday, July 18, 2003

Waddling Thunder writes some thought-provoking thoughts (i don't think that's redundant, actually) on Malcolm Gladwell's bestselling book, The Tipping Point. I read the book a few years ago after finding it on a bargain table for $2.99, and enjoyed it very much. It's interesting -- how new things become cultural phenomena. Like, for example, the Howard Dean campaign for President -- it seems to be building momentum, but is it enough to push it over the tipping point? Or is it just a fad that will soon fade? I hope it's the [former/latter -- insert whichever one corresponds to your own political beliefs, so that I don't alienate any readers with my radically right-wing/left-wing/moderate views].

Expanding on that idea -- I wonder how the tipping point relates to weblogs. What is the threshhold for when a weblog all of a sudden jumps from, say, 40 visitors a day, to 200, or 2,000, or 20,000. I can't imagine it's a gradual thing; it's got to be exponential -- a particularly striking post that visitors forward to their friends, who forward to their friends, and so on. Who are, in tipping point language, the "connectors" that need to read the weblog before it becomes a cultural phenomenon. And what does that post have to be? How can one website find that tipping point given the vastness of the Internet?

A side note that was originally the reason for my post -- the guy whose apartment I'm subletting actually has a copy of the Tipping Point on his shelf. Sort of. He has the audiobook version. I have a problem with audiobooks. I mean, I understand their convenience, and why people might want to listen to them -- on a long commute, etc -- but there's pleasure in reading, so much more than listening. And somehow reading seems like a much more beneficial activity. We don't tell kids to go up to their room and listen to audiobooks when they're little because it'll make them smart. Yet more than once, I've been in a conversation with a friend, and a book will come up, and they'll say, "Oh, I read that" and later in the conversation they say they listened to the audio book. Yet they feel okay calling that "reading." It's not reading any more than I can watch a video on MTV (i mean MTV2 -- there are no videos on MTV) and say "I sang that." It's a totally different activity. Reading does not equal listening to the audio book version. Unless I'm wrong. Unless it does, and this transformation of what it means to read has passed me by, much like the mp3 player and high-definition television, and minidiscs.

Speaking of minidiscs -- the stream of consciousness rant that never ends!! -- why do we have such an urge to always make things smaller? CDs are not so big. Or cell phones. Isn't it getting a little ridiculous now? They're pretty darn small yet they're getting smaller. The distance between my ear and my mouth isn't. Yet the phone is. And it's doing more stuff. I like my gadgets to do one thing, but do it well. If you're a cell phone, I want you to let me make calls. I don't need solitaire, web browsing, schedule-making, pez dispensing, or food dehydrating. Just let me make a phone call without losing service all the time.