Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
April 11, 2010 1:56 PM

What Happens When Malcolm Gladwell And Clay Shirky Can't Agree On Social Media?

Two of the smartest thinkers when it comes to media and business are Malcolm Gladwell and Clay Shirky.

Gladwell is the best-selling business book author of, Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers and What The Dog Saw and Shirky penned the "must-own" book, Here Comes Everybody along with being both a world-class media academic, speaker and pundit. Both have some of the most progressive business perspectives that have been put forth in the past decade, and it's becoming increasingly obvious that those perspective are not always on the same page.

Watch this..

The TED conference held a TED@State event in Washington, DC last June at the U.S. State Department. This is Shirky's 15 minute presentation (and it a "must-see"): TED Talks- Clay Shirky: How social media can make history.

But this might not be the Tipping Point for Social Media...

On Sunday, April 4th, 2010 the Globe & Mail published an interview with Malcolm Gladwell titled, Malcolm Gladwell: The quiet Canadian. Gladwell isn't big into Social Media as this article points out: "His blog posts are biannual, his Facebook page is a placeholder and he has never ventured on to Twitter."

So, what gives? What's Malcolm Gladwell's gripe with Social Media?

"There's only so much you can do in a day. And I don't feel I lack for platforms for expressing myself. I have books, I write for the New Yorker. If I gave people any more, they'd get sick of me. I have a Blackberry, like any good Canadian. I'm from Waterloo - how can I not have a Blackberry? I'll leave it in my bag for a while or I leave the office and go and work in a café. I'm right now working on something and I printed it off so I can work away from a computer for a while. There are just all kinds of little techniques one uses to restore alone time."

Fair enough, it's not relevant to Gladwell because he already has many popular publishing platforms to spread his ideas, but does Social Media work for others? Can Social Media help bring ideas to a tipping point?

"Do ideas spread through social media? I don't think they are vehicles. People aren't spreading ideas on Twitter, they're spreading observations, perhaps. The point of Tipping Point is that I was very interested in face-to-face interpersonal reactions. If social media or online communication is the means to the creation of a personal connection, it's a fabulous thing. But if it's an excuse to not make a connection, it's ultimately a trivial thing."

...And they're both right.

By Mitch Joel


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