Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Tipping Point: How Ideas Spread in Social Networks

So I read an interesting book today that my sister-in-law recommended.  It's called "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference" by Malcom Gladwell.  Here's the wikipedia link on it:


This book tries to answer the question:  what makes ideas spread more successfully in some situations and less successfully in others?  Gladwell offers some intriguing suggestions.

You've probably heard the phrase "six degrees of separation", the idea that everyone is connected by a few number of social links.  But there's an interesting nuance to that:  the idea that the networking is actually accomplished by a select few:  the Connector, the Maven, and the Salesman.

A Connector is someone like say my dad who remembers ever name and every fact about people (e.g. he can tell you the names of every person in his third grade class and where they were sitting).  He is a kind of social network hub.  ILLUSTRATION:  Everyone has heard about Paul Revere.  But have you heard about William Dawes?  Dawes did the exact same thing as Revere--he apparently spread the word about the British invasion on the same night as Revere.  But Dawes was unsuccessful.  The difference?  Revere knew EVERYONE.  He was a social networker.  So when he set out he was very strategic, knew precisely where to go in each town and city, etc.

Then there's Mavens (a Yiddishism referring to someone who collects information) and Salesmen (the charismatic types).

So if you have a "sticky" message (a message that is impactful and memorable) and it comes into the hands of personality types such as Connectors, etc, then what tends to happen is...A SOCIAL EPIDEMIC.  Which can be a good thing or a bad thing.

So naturally I'm thinking about how this applies to Scripture.  I was thinking about the spread of the Gospel message...  But I'm also thinking about how this applies to the Messianic movement.  And I can tell you that I've met all three types (sometimes overlapping in the same individual).  We've got Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen.

Anyway, this was just a bit of interesting sociology.  I don't know if it will help anyone or not.

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