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

Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen

It’s always been apparent to me that we are all equally  unique and have a certain aura about us. While reading this next chapter, Gladwell touched on a concept of “Connectors, Mavens, & Salesmen.” It made it possible to see the overall importance of these individuals and how they play a part in these “tipping” points (epidemics). I found it very entertaining to learn of his views on the communication and transferring information by “word of mouth,” and how it was and will always by an important means of communication.

When Paul Revere  set out on his mission armed with the historical message of  “the British are coming.” He road horseback for 13 miles, from Charleston to Menotomy. He used his voice and told his listener’s to use theirs. Within a matter of hours the British had begun their (what they had thought to be an) “undetected” invasion, they than came face to face with the Colonial Militia, and ultimately lost the fight. Gladwell explained that Revere was acting out as a Connector, he brought the people together, and his unique drive to “connect” and pass along the urgent message allowed the information to branch and torrent throughout the region as quickly as it did.

The comic that you see to your left is depicting a Maven confronting a Connector. Maven’s have the ability to interpret the qualities of people, place’s, or things in a different manor than the way most of us do. For example: You would say, “This coffee is too weak.” The Maven on the other hand might say “The coffee is a little delicate.” They have a knack for being pretty much neutral with all things. I think it be awesome if more people were this way.

Who do you listen to and ask for advice? If you know someone that knows what is seemingly everything about anything you might want to know about, and they are always somehow persuading you to take on a new hobbie, a purchase, maybe even a new favorite place to hangout. These individuals would be what Gladwell refers to as the “Salesman.” He points out that we still, in this day and age really do rely on our connection to people. The persuasion people have through  “wom” (word of mouth), despite all of these ingenious technologically advanced methods of advertising they’re usually overpowered by “wom,” because human beings like to believe that what they are being told is truth, really is in fact that, the truth. It’s easier to believe when the facts are being conveyed in a more “human” like fashion, like say a conversation between a friend. You’ll more than likely accept your friends opinion of a restaurant, over any commercial no matter how enticing it may be.