Malcolm Gladwell has to be one of the most thought leading author I know. His book, The Tipping Point, is well worth reading. He yet again presents a wealth of evidence from a range of disparate sources to form a coherent argument about one idea. In the case of “The Tipping Point” it is about why change happens when it does – what tips it over. What makes a fad, a product or even an idea go viral? And for thought leaders – people who make their living to of developing, packaging and presenting their thoughts, this is an important idea indeed. I find his take on ‘meme’ really interesting, particularly in relation to the Q & A on memes.
Q: Are you talking about the idea of memes, that has become so popular in academic circles recently?
A: It’s very similar. A meme is a idea that behaves like a virus – that moves through a population, taking hold in each person it infects. I must say, though, that I don’t much like that term. The thing that bothers me about the discussion of memes is that no one ever tries to define exactly what they are, and what makes a meme so contagious. I mean, you can put a virus under a microscope and point to all the genes on its surface that are responsible for making it so dangerous. So what happens when you look at an infectious idea under a microscope?
Check out his book – it goes into forensic details on this very subject.