Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Thoughts on The Tipping Point

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell is a book that makes you think. Just as Blink looked at how we form our first impressions, this earlier book by Gladwell is equally provocative.

The subtitle “How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” says it all. He shows how a few trendy kids buying vintage Hush Puppies propelled a dying shoe company into a national sensation. He shows how removing the graffiti from the subway cars in New York City completely turned around a trend in crime. He shows how an incidence of suicide in Micronesia seems to spawn copycats. He shows how the secret to breast cancer awareness in San Diego was using beauty shops as the information source. And on and on and on.

In each case, there was one idea or event that made a definite difference in an outcome. The person who chose this book has challenged each of us in our book club to come up with examples of tipping points.

A personal tipping point was my path from a once-a-week user of my home computer to an almost obsessive relationship with that machine. It all started around the time I started Blogging. Until then I had entirely enough keyboard exposure at my job, which was computer oriented. The last thing in the world I wanted to do at home was sit down and do anything at that machine. I often missed events and had to be called because I simply wasn’t a good e-mail correspondent. But in December 2004, my tipping point occurred when Looking2live was launched.

Which led me to wonder what the tipping point for Blogging was. In 2003, virtually no one had ever heard of a Blog or much less read one. Even at the point at which I started, the vast majority of Bloggers were under 35. But over the past 4 years I have seen that totally change.

I was surprised to find so few current statistics out there about the history of Blogging and the current number of Bloggers. The most comprehensive report I could find was put out by David Sifry of Technorati in April 2007. At that point the number of Blogs was doubling about every 6 months with 120,000 new Blogs each day. By the end of 2007, Technorati was tracking some 112 million Blogs. Wikipedia provides a fairly comprehensive history of Blogging.

I keep wondering what it was that launched so many new people down the Blogging path between 2003 and today (most of the 112+ million)? Was it the reports from Bloggers at the national political conventions? Or perhaps the “Rathergate” scandal whereby Bloggers showed documents conflicting with accepted accounts of President Bush’s military service record and reported by Dan Rather on CBS News to be forgeries? Was it a friend passing you a business card with her Blog name on the back?

I’m convinced that something happened around 2006 that caused those big spikes in David Sifry’s graph of new Bloggers.

And you – how and when did you come to Blogging? If you are simply reading without having your own Blog, what might be the tipping point that causes you to start one?

I love a book that is so revealing about human nature, a book that keeps you thinking after you read the last page!


Blogger Kate said...

Hey........ didn't Reya change her blog? Someone mentioned to me that she is blogging under different name.

10:26 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kate -- Reya moved on from Goldpoppy to Goldpuppy, with an emphasis on local photos.

10:58 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

I will have to get that book - I enjoyed Blink.

I started blogging in 2005 as a substitute for the column I used to write for the newspaper. When that job ended, writing on my blog filled the void. Part of the fun of writing, for me, is reader response. Blogging offers immediate gratification :)

6:59 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Pauline -- What actually made you aware of the possibility of Blogging? Were you the exception with instant readers? I wrote for months without even one comment. But even that felt good, sort of like practicing for the day they would come!

7:26 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

My brother started a blog in 2004. 2003? Ages ago and he asked me to contribute a story or two. A couple of years later, friends started a blog and asked me to join, later kicking me out because I wrote "too much" in an attempt to balance my financial career with my creative tendencies.

I've been writing ever since.

9:59 AM  
Blogger DC Food Blog said...

Great post. Really thought provoking. I had a fairly successful diaryland online diary that I kept up with until 2005. I certainly had a fund and loyal readership. But then we started our food blog. At first it was just something for us to write recipes down but then I wrote about Paula Deen and Ina Garten and pissed someone off that the Post and we were a full fledged blog. For me, it was connecting with a few other bloggers and reading their blog.

2:47 PM  
Blogger Kellyann Brown said...

I had a blog on Diaryland a lonnnng time ago, but it was my brother starting his blog and me seeing how easy blogging had gotten!

I am reading Everett Rogers' book, Diffusion of Innovation as a possible theoretical framework for my dissertation. He calls people innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. My dad was always in the early adopters category and I think of myself as probably an early majority adopter. I don't change my OS system just because there is a new one! Laggards fascinate me. I am always wondering why someone would not adopt a new technology, to the point of resisting it. My mother is like that.

3:12 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

Barbara - I'd read about blogging both on the web and in magazines, and like you, wrote for a long while before anyone found my site. When I started commenting on blogs that I read, they in turn visited me and commented and I began to have "regular" readers. I'm still finding new and interesting sites.

5:01 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- I'm not exactly sure why your other group members kicked you out, but you have far too much to say to have to patiently wait your turn! You are one of the few daily Bloggers I met at the beginning who is still going strong.

DCFood -- It's funny that you and Kelly both mention Diaryland, something I never heard of! It must be a good feeling to piss someone in a high place off legitimately.

Kelly -- I am fascinated by the categories of innovators you presented. I wouldn't call myself a laggard, but I don't go out there looking to make unnecessary changes.

Pauline -- I wish I had kept a better record of who came to read, when and why. It all sort of runs together at this point. I know that the demographics of my link list have changed drastically in 4 years, with the average age constantly moving up.

5:38 PM  

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