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September 14, 2009


Gladwell has spawned a new genre of book: Blink, the power of reading without thinking. Books in this genre are a lot like browsing the internet. You are able to consume them rapidly with minimal effort, and they provide you enough just enough superficial fact and opinion to allow you to leave you with the feeling that you’ve learned something substantial. They also arm you with buzzwords of the zeitgeist to sprinkle into your language so that you and your colleagues can share profound analytical insights such as whether company x is truly an “outlier” or not.

Hmm, I think I’m coming off a bit harsh in that first paragraph. I actually admire Gladwell’s engaging writing style and knack for pattern recognition, i.e. the ability to derive big ideas from the flimflam of contemporary life. And he’s provocative: yeah, maybe I should pay more attention to my gut and at the same time be aware of my built-in prejudices. And there’s all those little nuggets of smaller ideas, such as the notion that being courteous and friendly to colleagues and clients may actually be more important than doing a good job (what I got out of his anecdote about people being far less likely to bring a malpractice suit against doctors who were nice to them).

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