Tipping Point

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Book by Malcolm Gladwell, and concept.

Concept Description

"After studying the dynamics of a number of these cases of information spreading across information networks, Gladwell (2000 p. 19-29) identified three characteristics of information viruses that are able to reach the explosive phase, what Gladwell calls ‘The Tipping Point’.

The three rules of the tipping point include ‘The Law of the Few’, ‘The Stickyness Factor’, and ‘The Power of Context’.

1. The law of the few: A tiny percentage of people do the majority of the work. Power law distribution of connectivity in networks dictate, that

2. The stickiness factor: Epidemics tip because of the efforts of a few select carriers. The epidemic spreads exponentially from a relatively small group of initial carriers that have a high number of connections.

3. The power of context: Context is paramount in spreading a virus. Given the right initial context, an epidemic can spread over a number of different contexts with different conditions for connection and diffusion of fads." (http://dotjonas.net/wordpress/?page_id=7)

More Information

  1. Duncan Watts debunks Malcolm Gladwell, http://www.bnet.com/blog/best-business-books/a-scientific-view-of-why-ideas-go-viral/331
  2. Boleslaw Szymanski: Minority Rules: Scientists Discover Tipping Point for the Spread of Ideas http://scnarc.rpi.edu/content/minority-rules-scientists-discover-tipping-point-spread-ideas

Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society. The scientists, who are members of the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center (SCNARC) at Rensselaer, used computational and analytical methods to discover the tipping point where a minority belief becomes the majority opinion. The finding has implications for the study and influence of societal interactions ranging from the spread of innovations to the movement of political ideals.

“When the number of committed opinion holders is below 10 percent, there is no visible progress in the spread of ideas. It would literally take the amount of time comparable to the age of the universe for this size group to reach the majority,” said SCNARC Director Boleslaw Szymanski, the Claire and Roland Schmitt Distinguished Professor at Rensselaer. “Once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame.”