The Power of Context (pt. 2)

When Rebecca Wells, a playwright and occasional actress had released her novel the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, the expectations in number of sales weren’t on a super grand scale, her previous novel had only sold around a respectable 15,000 hardcover copies, setting the projected outcome for this next release. Amazingly and just as unexpectedly as the crime in the New York subways came to an abrupt halt, something happened, it tipped.

Though the first few months showed signs of previous “normalcy,” the months to follow thereafter were astonishingly spectacular, the sales of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood quickly grew in sales and surpassed any expectation that Wells and her publisher could have ever imagined. This is what Gladwell refers to as “the power of context.” There were a few key factors that played a part into the tipping of this book. Well’s was a story teller, and an actress… she didn’t tour the country, stopping in every city to hold public readings and publicize her name in works, but when she did read publicly, it was a performance from the heart and captured her viewers, her first public reading only had around 7 viewers. Months later, she’d be reading to thousands.

Another key ingredient that had left a window of tipping opportunity, was the pure nature of the novel, it was “sticky,” a heartwarming tale between a mother and daughter, people connected with it and lived it. It was a topic starter, and was a book clubs dream novel, people were living the story and formed their own “sisterhoods” that portrayed the one in the story. The Ya-Ya Sisterhood tipped, not just because it was a beautifully written piece of work, but because it was a beautifully written piece of work that brought people together. The Ya-Ya Sisterhood had sold over 2.5 million copies.

Further in the chapter, Gladwell starts onto a journey of cognitive psychology. We learn of why humans, and some primates possess a larger neocortex of all the mammals. A man by the name of Bill Gore concluded that it was the size of the groups in which they live (we) live; and not just the diet of the animal. He came to this conclusion after a study in the group size and took into account of the cognitive ability of the animal.

It is apparently so, group size can and does determine the intelligence factor. It takes a certain amount of brain power in order to live and function in a group, we’d need to keep track of each groups member, and their relationships with each other member. In observation of this portion of the chapter, I conclude that maybe the most socially developed of creatures are the most intelligent.

I think of how we as humans have the ability to bond and build emotionally driven relationships, and think of how sometimes you get so overwhelmed with everything that you think your head will explode, but it doesn’t. Than I think wow, my brain is awesome, even though it gets a little funky. Which brings me to the limitations of the brain, the human brain. It has been researched that as awesome as our cognitive abilities are, there’s a limit of 7 and 150. We can keep track of 7 instances of a memory at one time, anymore and you are just guessing. We will also learn we have group limitations, it has been proven that when in a group, we can successfully keep track of 150 group members, if that number is surpassed… you’d begin to notice a negative effect in relationship quality.

The Ya-Ya Sisterhood “tipped” because of the groups that built relationships upon the context within the novel and it’s purpose, it connected groups upon groups to eventually spread like a cool breeze on a summers day, it was an enjoyable stimuli that fed onto the desire and need for us to connect. I think I might just go out and buy the book, just to see what all the hubbub is about.

The magic number 150.

When Rebecca wells, a playright and occassional actress released her
novel the  ya ya sister hood, the expectations weren't on a grand
scale, her previous novel had only sold around 10,000 hardcover
copies. So that was about the number that was projected for this
release. but as unexpecdedly as the crime in the new York subways came
to an abrupt haul, something amazing happened, though the first few
months showed signs of normalcy, the months to follow after were
astonishingly spectacular, the sales of the ya ya sisterhood quickly
surpaced what Wells a d her publisher could have ever imagined. This
is what Gladwell reffers to as "the power of context." While the first
public reading of the book

Broken Windows Theory

The theory is that a “broken window” (which can either be literal or metaphorical) gives the appearance that it and its surrounding area is vacant and free territory, free from surveillance and law. This current chapter (the power of context part 1) is about the tipping point of crime. Those criminal minded individuals that see this vacancy in a “broken window,” see it as an opportunity to express themselves freely and disgustingly in their insincere ways to others and their community.

When crime tips, it’s different than other tipping points that I’ve read about and have blogged about. I’ve learned that when crime is at it’s tipping point, there are many key factors that play a role in its abscess of tipping. From what would seemingly be the smallest of a crime could just be the underlying beast in disguise. Gladwell also takes into consideration to note of how crime will effect the most average of person, turning them into a person submittableĀ  to committing crime.

I didn’t think it at all strange when he suggested that people would almost always commit some sort of crime if they knew a majority of others are getting away with it, because it’s within human nature to take advantage of a “good” thing even if its not fare or right.

The simple and constant act of just cleaning graffiti from trains and subway areas for a short period of time helped play a part to tip the crime level to substantially low level in the 1980’s, within a mere 6 years, the subways were safe and cleaner than ever before. Many had thought graffiti to be the least of crime troubles, after studies and observation done by a select few it (graffiti) actually turned out to be it’s igniter fluid. Which sucks, I love looking at graffiti, it’s art!

The Shiny Gold Box

…also known as “The Stickiness Factor.”

After the completion of this chapter, I wouldn’t say that I see television in a so much of a different manor as it just certainly brought to light things that I wouldn’t have noticed or contemplate over normally, for the most part. Most of which this chapter was really referring to the “tipping” of knowledge through television and media, especially shows geared for a younger generation, Sesame Street, and Blues Clues were of the top mentions.

The idea is that information needs to be like a “hook” in order to be interesting, compiled in a form that catches our attention, and furthermore, that hook has to be baited with something tasty. This way, you inevitably want more and stay attentive to the information that you are receiving. Not only will you be more attentive, but studies suggest and have proved that you will retain the information over an extended period of time.

When Sesame Street was introduced in the 60’s, it quickly presented promise in creating an actual “learning environment”Ā  in what many had thought to be impossible. Many spectated that television, while being just a “talking box” was not a probable medium for teaching, teaching was thought to be at it’s optimal form while some basis of interaction is involved… for which the television was not very interactive… yet. The inner workings of a child’s mind is unsurprisingly different than an adults. The maker’s of Sesame Street saw this a “light bulb” moment and noticed how the current programing wasn’t sensitive to this fact.

While the main focus was to bring an affordable and “sticking” learning environment to children of lower class families who are less privileged to be in pre-school or to be provided a well rounded learning environment, with parents that are supportive of such an idea. Sesame Street was a huge success. I myself can remember watching Sesame Street, learning, and loving it. I loved Oscar, maybe that’s why I can be such a grouch sometimes. When the maker’s of Blues Clues came along, they built their show upon Sesame Street’s structure, but simply revamped it, and improved the interactive quality, making it even more “learner” friendly, and of course added more understanding and sensitivity to the viewers interests.

OK, I’ll admit it, I’ve watched Blue’s Clues… but only because my little brother had full control of the remote; (umm) I swear. No, I don’t know who Magenta is! …and don’t think HE’S broke-back, he’s probably Blue’s boy toy or something rather, who knows.