The Tipping Point

Malcolm Gladwell‘s phenomenal book, The Tipping Point. Having encountered the phrase “tipping point” in many magazine, news and blog articles as it had become a by-word among writers, economists and analysts, I thought I’d better buy the book to better understand the subject. I made the right decision. I have finally found time to make a short review of

Gladwell’s work is a gem. It explains how trends and phenomena happen, the processes and people involved, and how small changes can influence large sections of societies. It reaffirms the idea that humans are profoundly social animals that affect, and are affected by, their immediate environments.

Tipping Point is when “an idea, trend or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire” among societies. A social phenomenon has three dimensions, namely, people, stickiness and context.

There are three kinds of people that start off trends: (1) connectors whose vast expanse of personal connections cover an assortment of social, professional and cultural groups, embodying the adage, “It’s not what you know but who you know”; (2) mavens are basically your know-it-alls who collect knowledge and information about products, services and whatever strikes their fancy; (3) salesmen are those who are gifted with the power of persuasion. All these three have the ability to “click” with nearly anyone who happens by their orbits.

Stickiness, the second dimension, refers to the power of a message to remain with an intended receiver. It not only catches one’s attention, it stays in the mind of the message’s recipient. Stickiness is that little detail that sets the difference between a message’s acceptability and its tendency to be disregarded.

Context is an important factor in tipping point, in that people’s actions and decisions do not happen in a vacuum. Environment not only refers to the physical surroundings but also the actions of others. Epidemics are built upon recurring social issues in the times and places in which such happen. And while there are those who trailblaze, much of humanity still find comfort in acquiescence. Moreover, people’s decisions are often affected by the quality and quantity of the groups to which they belong. The rule of 150 suggests that groups under the size of 150 persons are more effective; beyond 150, personal bonds and lines of communication among members start to deteriorate.

In the end, the tipping point is about that slight change, the small detail, that sets an idea, behavior or product towards wider social acceptance. And the trick lies in finding it.

So We Can’t Hurt Anymore

You won’t see me hanging around like a long lost friend
With my ear glued to some pay phone calling you up again
Cause I’ve had all of the one last times
I’ll crawl in or out that door
And this pointing finger’s all crooked and worn
And it won’t shift the blame no more
We’re out of pictures to hide the fist holes
Covering this bedroom wall
And I’m out of whiskey and I’m so out of touch
That I don’t give a damn at all
And I’m not sure when our love went south
But it left a long time ago
And left us stranded like a dog in the rain
And we keep diggin up old bones
Oh the words we’ve tossed around
Like a leaf in a storm
Until we broke each others hearts so bad
That we can’t hurt anymore
And what a low down crying shame
The walls we build around our souls
Just to protect ourselves from the ones we love
So we can’t hurt anymore.

Jon Randall

Identity Production in a Networked World

Danah Boyd, a PhD student at School of Information (SIMS) at the University of California, Berkeley, presented a paper about how teenagers are using MySpace, which lately has been  receiving a barrage of negative publicity due to the death of a New Jersey teener who fell victim to an online predator whom she met in the biggest social networking site. MySpace boasts of at least 41 million members (including moi!) and is probably the hippest site of its kind as it also features profiles of music artists, downloadable and streaming music, videos and other newfangled widgets that make staring at one’s profile either eye-straining or simply pleasant. The network, which receives more page views than Google, was bought by Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp last year for $580 million.

I created a Myspace profile not as a means to hang out but to network, and then eventually for downloading mp3s or getting updates about indie musicians which are a dime a dozen on Myspace. In the short span of time that I’ve been keeping a profile which I visit once in three to four weeks, I’ve experienced receiving a sales pitch, comments on photos, getting-to-know-you and hi-hello private messages. No proposals for sex so far, thank you very much.  Should the occasion arise, it’s best to alert the Myspace team should they be inclined to ban possible sexual predators. At one point, I was a social networking junkie and spent countless hours on Friendster which happened to be the most popular SN site in the country, and chatting with people of similar interest in online forums. However, I’d like to think that I’ve graduated from such pursuits as I find other facets of Web2.0 more interesting.

“So what exactly are teens  doing  on MySpace? Simple: they’re hanging out. Of course, ask any teen what they’re  doing with their friends in general; they’ll most likely shrug their shoulders and respond nonchalantly with “just hanging out.” Although adults often perceive hanging out to be wasted time, it is how youth get socialized into peer groups. Hanging out amongst friends allows teens to build relationships and stay connected. Much of what is shared between youth is culture – fashion, music, media. The rest is simply presence. This is important in the development of a social worldview.

“For many teens, hanging out has moved online. Teens chat on IM for hours, mostly keeping each other company and sharing entertaining cultural tidbits from the web and thoughts of the day. The same is true on MySpace, only in a much more public way. MySpace is both the location of hanging out and the cultural glue itself. MySpace and IM have become critical tools for teens to maintain “full-time always-on intimate communities” [4] where they keep their friends close even when they’re physically separated. Such ongoing intimacy and shared cultural context allows youth to solidify their social groups. “

From: Identity Production in a Networked Culture: Why Youth {Heart} MySpace

Just for fun: Pinoy jokes

Some forward from the IBC Badminton egroup. PCs beware. Bato-bato sa langit, ang tamaan sa presinto magpaliwanag. 🙂

Prospective Employer to Applicant: ” So why did you leave your previous job?”
Applicant: ” The company relocated and they did not tell me where!” ______________________________________________________________
Bisaya 1: ” Gara ng kutsi, siguro kay Miyur iyan.”!
Bisaya 2: ” Dili bay!”
Bisaya 1: ” Kay Hipi?”
Bisaya 2: ” Tuntu ka man. Kay FATHER iyan. Gisulat niya sa likud o, “’SAFARI’.”  _____________________________________________________________
Misis: ” Sir, mananawagan po sana ako sa mister ko kasi dinala niya ang limang anak namin.”
Radio Host: ” Ok, go ahead!”
Misis: ” Honey, ibalik mo na ang mga bata, isa lang naman ang sa iyo diyan!”  _____________________________________________________________
Hello! Heto na naman ako. Gulung-gulo ulit ang isip ko. May nais lang sana akong itanong sa inyo. Alam ko matutulungan niyo ako Ang BIRDS FLU ba ay past tense ng BIRDS FLY?  _____________________________________________________________
AMO: sagutin mo ang telepon inday!
INDAY: (baligtad ang hawak) hilo? hilo?
AMO: baligtarin mo!
INDAY: lohi? lohi?
AMO: telepon ang baligtarin mo!
INDAY: Puntili, puntili
Pedro: Galing ako sa doktor, nakabili na ko ng hearing aid. Grabe! ang linaw na ng pandinig ko!
Juan: Talaga?! Magkano bili mo?
Pedro: Kahapon lang
Teacher: We are descendants of Adam and Eve!
Student: That’s not true! My dad sez we are descendants of an Ape!
Teacher: We are not talking about your FAMILY! > > > ______________________________________________________________
KRIMINAL1: “Pare, sigurado ka bang dito dadaan yung papatayin natin?”
KRIMINAL2: “Oo, nagtataka nga ako, 1 oras na tayo dito wala parin siya! Sana naman walang nangyaring masama sa kanya.”

‘Sometimes the road ahead is paved with anything but good intentions.’

elizabethtownThanks to the “dibidi” supplier at our building, I got my hands on a copy of “Elizabethtown” which stars Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst. The film tanked at the US box office, for some reason, and a newsmagazine even opined that it must have been due to Bloom’s appeal to women–as in, he appeals mostly to women, thanks to his pretty boy looks, and that must have turned male audiences off. “Elizabethtown” failed to show on our movie theaters.
Bloom plays Drew Baylor, a once-rising star of an athletic shoes firm. However, when his shoe design bombs in the market, causing some $972 million dollars in losses, he is immediately fired from his Nike-like company. And as if things couldn’t get worse, he receives a call about his father’s sudden death at the moment when he is about to commit suicide due to the “fiasco”. He has to take the first plane to Elizabethtown, Kentucky to retrieve the remains of his father.

While on the plane, he meets Clare (Dunst), a flight attendant with an affecting sunny disposition, who helps him see his failure in a different light. It is in Elizabethtown, a sleepy pocket of Kentucky, that Drew learns more about his father and his roots, and most especially what greatness actually means.
elizabethtown orlando bloom
The film makes sense for the most part and has a promising premise. However, where Drew’s failure is concerned, it is easy to ask why a successful shoe company allowed the release of a hideously designed shoe and even perhaps without an accompanying market research to test the acceptability–and eventually, saleability–of the product. Drew’s failure could have had a better reason other than aesthetic flaws.

Setting the initial premise, the story rises to acceptable levels as Drew takes his trip to Elizabethtown, meets Clare along the way and becomes familiar with his blood ties, the laid back and rather traditional huge family that his father left behind in Elizabethtown, Kentucky for California.

But what saves this piece by director Cameron Crowe is the powerful soundtrack. Don’t lose heart since the film delivers a touching promise in the end when Clare sends Drew to a 42-hour roadtrip back to California with accompanying music at every stop and instructions on interesting destinations along the way.

Watching the Launch of PBB Celebrity Edition at Baywalk

I was not supposed to watch the PBB-Celebrity Edition on Baywalk last Sunday, but instead read Murakami’s Windup Bird Chronicle at a nearby coffee shop while Rome was covering the program.  However, an ABS-CBN PR invited me to tag along, and so I eventually found myself in the company of the showbiz press pack and a seat right there in front of the stage.  Being there meant witnessing the crazy off-cam proceedings of the program as well as having a good view of the PBBCE participants , shamelessly staring at the first edition ‘housemates’  and Toni Gonzaga’s to-die-for legs and gawking at Sam Milby’s killer smile. I still think Rico is sexier and JB shouldn’t put too much makeup, but I go for karate girl Gretchen Malalad.

During the pre-show dinner that was supposed to have been actually a press conference, people at my table (including the PR) mentioned the touchy subject, the ULTRA stampede. It was touchy in the sense that ABS-CBN also produced Wowowee, the show for which tens of thousands camped out and eventually stampeded for entrance to the Philsports Arena for chances to win huge prizes. The funny part about the discussion over the deadly Wowowee anniversary was that the PR person acted as if her employer were not at fault for the tragedy, as if ABS was the victim, instead of the 74 people who were crushed to death and the hundreds injured. The tabloid writers on my table, maybe thankful for the free dinner, agreed as if what the ABS PR was saying was true. Mga envelopmental journalists talaga itong mga press writers na ito. I swear that if Rome weren’t one of the press folks around, I would have stomped out of the place pronto.

Here is what happened: Weeks before the show’s anniversary that was to be held at Philsports Arena (formerly ULTRA), adverts were shown about the huge prizes awaiting those who would be lucky enough to enter the show’s venue. Days before the show, thousands of people started to camp out around the Philsports block, and it was obvious, judging by the massive numbers of people, that something ugly could happen because the venue was too small for the possible number of people waiting outside its gates. Still, Wowowee kept advertising prizes and inviting people to go to the arena. In short, the network encouraged viewers to amass around the venue even if it knew that the place could not hold even half of the number that was already waiting outside.  The basketball stadium could only hold 5,000; the crowd camping out was in the tens of thousands.

At about 6:00 AM on February 4, the show’s anniversary, Wowowee’s people started handing out tickets. Because many in the crowd had been camping out for days, they feared that their efforts would be in vain, and thus, agitated, jumped the lines and pushed those ahead of them. This prompted the Philsports guards to close the gates. The gates eventually gave out and those in front stumbled as the commotion to get in went out of hand.  

The show was canceled and what followed since was constant airing of reels from the tragedy and Willie Revillame asking for sympathy. Sympathy for what? For luring people to amass at the Philsports Arena even if it was already impossible to let everyone in?

To add insult to injury, ABS is now asking for donations from TV viewers for the hospitalization of the injured and I guess burial of the dead. I swear, kung sino man ang nag-donate, mga bobo kayo.  All fingers point to ABS-CBN. It was they who allowed the tragedy to happen. It is the network that should shoulder the victims’ hospital and funeral bills. And if they meant what they said that all they wanted was to help the poor, give money to each person who lined up for days outside the arena and stop airing that stupid show that has done nothing but demean women.

And fire that PR airhead. She’s not fooling anyone.