Duncan Watts’s challenge to Malcolm Gladwell (Is the Tipping Point Toast?, February) continues to attract attention. On February 28, an invitation-only crowd of 65 gathered at Fast Company’s Manhattan office to hear author Clive Thompson interview the network-theory scientist about why he’s convinced Gladwell’s Influentials aren’t that, well, influential. And readers are still chiming in. Below, a sampling of recent letters:
Trends are not started by a single cool kid, but by groups of them. And these groups of cool kids are more likely to be connected to other groups of cool kids. Superinfluentials are not just highly connected, but highly connected to other superinfluentials. There is an exponential aspect here that isn’t accounted for in Watts’s simulation.
Morgan Rogers, Halifax, Nova Scotia
It seems to me that the early adopters are the Influentials in most cases. If they like something, they spread the word; if they don’t, they spread the word, too. The rest, even many of the so-called Influentials, wait around to see who’s going to go first. It’s almost as simple as rewinding to high school — social politics on the model of the 1980s movie Heathers.
Christine Perkett, Marshfield, Massachusetts
When you decide which tune to download, you might take anyone’s advice. When you decide which cancer treatment to try, you’re likely to seek out a person you trust.
David Maxfield, Provo, Utah