This Blog Sits At The has a great article concerning a rebuttal to The Tipping Point. I admit I read the book and thought it may have had some valid points. The book introduced the idea of "Influencers", people who have more than their fair share of sway over their peers. Many advertising related businesses are focussed on identifying and influencing the Tipping Point's "influencers". I can think of one beer marketing exec who mentioned the process to me just the other day. Which is why this article is so interesting.
Duncan Watts (a research scientist at Columbia and, for the moment, Yahoo) argues that "influencers" are less influential than Gladwell's Tipping Point model would have us believe. He argues that news travels as readily through ordinary people as influential ones. This means that our world is not "hub and spoke," with some individuals acting like O'Hare and the rest of us like Cleveland or, pause, Dayton. No, as Thompson put it, networks are democratic. We are just as likely to "get the news" from a friend as we are from an networking paragon.
He goes on to discuss the repercussions of this position. What I especially enjoy is that Content may still be King. There is no formula. It's all about the quality. This Week in Tech chatted with Jonathan Coulton about how he was discovered by his audience and their general consensus was quality over time tends to float to the top on the web. Which would mimic real life, you'd think...
It turns out, hey presto, that consumers like things because they like them, not because someone told them to like them. Consumers like things because these things are a lot like consumers themselves: smart, creative, interesting, lively, topical, winning or otherwise engaging. And if the consumer doesn't like a product or a service, it doesn't matter how hip, authoritative, or viral we make them or our agents. They don't like them. End of story.
Viva the chaos environment. Click here to read the rest of this article.