Category Archives: social epidemics

In the interest of dogs…

Here’s an interesting article by Malcolm Gladwell, writer for The New Yorker and author of The Tipping Point (mentioned in my previous post), in which he discusses how dogs perceive our body language.  He uses Cesar Millan from the cable TV show, The Dog Whisperer, as an example.  I myself have noticed how perfectly Cesar is able to mimic the facial expressions and movements of the dogs he rehabilitates.  He obviously is in tune with the animals and understands that they don’t think or reason the way we do, although many humans refuse to accept this.  Just watch the show (on National Geographic Channel) and you’ll see.  But read the article first.  I’ve just happily discovered Gladwell’s website.  He has a fresh and often fascinating viewpoint on an eclectic mix of topics, and I always enjoy reading his material.

Here is another article about the Michael Vick merchandise, in particular, the 22 dog-earred, chewed up Vick trading cards that went for $7,400 on eBay.  A comment in the article reminded me of Gladwell’s concept of “stickiness” Continue reading

Viral Videos

My last post was about a phrase I feel is vague and overused.  This one is about a word that is growing exponentially because of the speed of the Internet’s mass transmissions.  The word is “viral” — You’ve probably heard it and know what it means.  It’s anything that spreads and multiplies really, really fast, like a computer virus or an Internet email hoax or an epidemic.  Speaking of epidemics, Malcolm Gladwell has penned a timely book about the science of social epidemics — fads, trends, and ideas that start out relatively insignificant, but when a few small changes are factored in, become outrageously popular.  Those little changes, often surprisingly, are what cause the trend to reach a tipping point, where it then quickly becomes an epidemic.  In The Tipping Point, Gladwell gives lots of examples from history.  Anyone involved in the marketing of ideas and products should check this book out.

But “viral” is a word that is also a little vague.  On a website that features the top 10 viral videos and photos, I found a video with 7 views and one with over 2,500 views.  It seems they’re all humorous too.  Obviously, the selections are made by the author of that site.  But truly viral videos are Continue reading