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Gladwell gets a blog
February 23, 2006 9:47 PM   Subscribe

Will Malcolm Gladwell's blog be as good as his New Yorker articles and books? Will it be better? I'm always fascinated when "big name" people start blogging. Will he be interesting and personal, dry and professional, or will the blog crash and burn?
posted by cmaxmagee (34 comments total)

 
Comments disabled in 10... 9...
posted by xmutex at 9:50 PM on February 23, 2006


I really wish he'd double the line-height so I could read it comfortably, but I'm very happy to see this. Maybe I'll just read it in a RSS reader for now.
posted by mathowie at 10:05 PM on February 23, 2006


8... 7... Since when are his books and articles "good?" As far as I can tell, the general consensus is that they are "crap."

6... 5... So how much did you get paid for this FPP? I hope it was more than $5, cuz here comes the ban!

4... 3...
posted by ChasFile at 10:06 PM on February 23, 2006


2... 1... HAPPY NEW YEAR!

err.. what was the count down for?
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:14 PM on February 23, 2006


It was a countdown to snarkiness. And we have liftoff.
posted by horsewithnoname at 10:16 PM on February 23, 2006


A series of questions does not a post make.
posted by billysumday at 10:24 PM on February 23, 2006


A series of questions does not a post make.

Too bad there wasn't a great link in there, jerk.
posted by callmejay at 10:53 PM on February 23, 2006


Jesus, Chasfile. What crawled up your ass?
posted by Tlogmer at 11:41 PM on February 23, 2006


Well now Kottke's job is easier...

::YAWNS::
posted by Dreamghost at 1:29 AM on February 24, 2006


I like how the "you're gonna get banned!" comment comes directly after #1 pondering about how much he likes Malcolm Gladwell.

True, his SWSWi speech was good. Even though it was all stuff from his book, he's a smart dude. And man, does he have some serious hair.
posted by spiderwire at 1:55 AM on February 24, 2006


Someone ought to tell him about paragraphs in that 'mea culpa' post.
posted by Navek Rednam at 2:56 AM on February 24, 2006


Malcom Gladwell's website, gladwell.com is one of the best around, particularly his "New Yorker" archive.

Two essays in that archive, The Naked Face (a concise summary of much of what is in 'Blink') and Connecting the Dots are outstanding pieces of writing.

Thanks for the post. Ignore the jerks.
posted by grahamwell at 3:37 AM on February 24, 2006


Here's a working link to gladwell.com. Ho Hum.
posted by grahamwell at 3:40 AM on February 24, 2006


Is there some kind of Cleveland steamer comment race going on lately that nobody told me about?
posted by srboisvert at 3:48 AM on February 24, 2006


You mean, is he going to play fast and loose with psychological and sociological research? My prediction... yes.
posted by trey at 4:30 AM on February 24, 2006


The plain stupidity and meanness of comments at this sitge is plain DUMB. If you con't like a girl, a restaurant, a book, a movie, a post--walk away and find that which yo prefer.

The problem with celebrity blogs, I think, is that they become marketing vehicles rather than offering stuff that will not appear in print.
posted by Postroad at 4:51 AM on February 24, 2006


Gladwell's an outstanding writer. What interested me most about this nascent blog is that he clearly obsesses about the minutiae of his output. Most journalists I know (and I've been one for 20 years) are able to close the file when the copy is in print, even if they're frantic about the details right up to deadline (and half-an-hour beyond). Gladwell evidently keeps all his files open, even years later.
posted by MinPin at 4:58 AM on February 24, 2006


Gladwell's one of my favorite nonfiction writers, and I bookmarked this immediately. Whether you agree with him or not in any particular case, his thought processes are invariably interesting. And how many professional navel-gazers are willing to change their mind with such panache:

In our debate, Adam [Gopnik] vigorously defended the Canadian system, and I attacked it. But wait! That was six years ago! I've now changed my mind. I now agree with virtually everything Adam said and disagree with virtually everything I said. In fact, I shudder when I read what I said back then.

And, as grahamwell so succinctly put it:
Thanks for the post. Ignore the jerks.
posted by languagehat at 5:34 AM on February 24, 2006


Thanks very much for the post. And yeah, I'll save my rant about the reflexive anti-Gladwell backlash (but he has the audacity to popularize otherwise-obscure academic theories! he's practically Satan!), and follow grahamwell and languagehat's example. Ignore the jerks.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 5:46 AM on February 24, 2006


You guys are hilarious. I especially like ChasFile's comments about Gladwell paying me to post a link to his blog here - as if he was saying to himself... "if only I could get on MeFi, then I'd really be a big shot." Furthermore, I don't need his filthy money, I'm thinking about taking on micropatrons.

At any rate, love him or hate him, I figured Gladwell having a blog would be of interest, since everyone seems to... love him or hate him.
posted by cmaxmagee at 6:07 AM on February 24, 2006


ChasFile wrote: "Since when are his books and articles "good?" As far as I can tell, the general consensus is that they are "crap."


"Malcolm Gladwell" + good: 1.020.000 results on Google

"Malcolm Gladwell" + crap: 64.700 results on Google.

Amazon customer reviews on "Blink": average 3 1/2 star (of 5)

Amazon customer reviews on "The tipping point": average 4 stars (of 5)


(By the way, ChasFile writes in his profile: " I consider myself funny, but really that just means I enjoy complaining and being passive aggressive". )
posted by iviken at 6:15 AM on February 24, 2006


Ahh, Google, the great arbiter of taste.
posted by trey at 6:26 AM on February 24, 2006


Ahh, the Internet, the great arbiter of taste.

Ahh, Democracy, the great arbiter of taste.

Ahh, other people's opinions, ...ad nauseum.

If ya dont like it, dont read it and leave the rest of us alone. No one cares that you don't like it.
posted by Dantien at 6:30 AM on February 24, 2006


No one cares that you don't like it.

I think this comment should be repeated.

It's a hard truth - but it is a truth. Critics earn respect by accurately plying their craft - unfortunately, so many of us think that bitching about something without giving good reason will actually, really, make some sort of difference.

But the truth of it is, really it just makes you look like a dick, most of the time.

I think we should all keep this axiom in the back of our minds, especially when we feel like making the off-handed, "I vote it is crap" comment.

Deep breath...then..."No one cares that you don't like it." ...exhale.

Brilliant.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:49 AM on February 24, 2006


Actually, I agree with that and I find myself saying it all the time when other people voice their opinions. I find myself irritated with this (and most) site when threads are constant snarkiness (check my posting history, I've spoken out about this).

I am a huge proponent of bringing scientific research into the public discourse. I just don't like it when someone like Gladwell (who is a really gifted writer, I might add) does so but places more emphasis on his writing than getting all of the details right sometimes. Additionally, a lot of Gladwell's work is merely repeating other (lesser known) people's work and he often gets credited as if he actually conducted the primary research.

So, I apologize for the snark and submit this comment.
posted by trey at 7:04 AM on February 24, 2006


However, I stand by the fact that more Google hits does not an indicator of truth be. Google != The Internet, and Google != Democracy.
posted by trey at 7:05 AM on February 24, 2006


However, I stand by the fact that more Google hits does not an indicator of truth be. Google != The Internet, and Google != Democracy.

I dunno. Google == the Internet, in any meaningful sense -- unless there are a bunch of secret "Gladwell sucks" sites with excluding robots.txt files. But even if Google == Democracy, Democracy != Truth.
posted by danb at 8:43 AM on February 24, 2006


trey,

I 100% agree with you. Gladwell's analysis is shallow and often wrong or that it's way, way overhyped by so many of the similarly shallow people and bloggers whose salary and livelihood depends on appearing as bleeding edge. It's quite obvious that he's more interested in selling books and novelty than actually doing the sort of rigorous analysis that's needed. I'm often asked by people if he's worth reading and I always say, "Well, he's the 'it'-thing these days." For a lot of people, that's all they need to hear.
posted by nixerman at 9:54 AM on February 24, 2006


Furthermore, I don't need his filthy money, I'm thinking about taking on micropatrons.

rofl.
posted by 235w103 at 10:42 AM on February 24, 2006


trey, I 100% agree with you.

Except, of course, for his apology. Apparently you don't grasp the concept (with which trey agreed) that "bitching about something ... just makes you look like a dick, most of the time." So go ahead and bitch, despite the fact that nobody cares and you look like a dick.
posted by languagehat at 12:16 PM on February 24, 2006


Communal complaining about people whom many despise can be cathartic and uplifting, and has a long and glorious history. Conversely, those who spend a lot of time worrying about whether or not others see them as 'dicks' are basically worthless people who should kill themselves immediately.
posted by bingo at 5:33 PM on February 24, 2006


I am an avid non-fiction reader (I will take recommendations at any time) and have rather enjoyed Gladwell's books - Tipping Point and Blink - both personally and professionally. Ideas are important to me and Gladwell has presented a few very good ideas that I have explored on my own. However, Gladwell's ideas were not his own (please correct me if I am wrong). My impression was that he was compiling a collection of ideas that asserted his own theses, but nonetheless ideas that I was happy to be introduced to. My hope with this blog site is that Gladwell continues to introduce new ideas - or drudge up old ones - and that (from the writer part of my brain) we get to experience his process of compiling, organizing and publishing these ideas for the general public. Furthermore, I like Gladwell's writing style, so hopefully we'll get to see that in (somewhat) real time. My fear is that this will be Gladwell unplugged, unwitty, and as unrefreshing as a John Perkins "confession".
posted by joepunk at 6:10 PM on February 24, 2006


Let's be straightforward here. Malcolm Gladwell is a pop psychologist, but there's nothing wrong with that. He's an excellent writer who does a great job of synthesizing a vast bulk of ideas and research and presenting them in a form which the general public can understand.

Look, if your criticism is "he gives these ideas short shrift" or "he's doesn't tell the whole story," then I agree. But you could say the same -- to some degree -- about many psychology research papers. If your criticism is "he's citing other people's research," then I really have no idea what to say to you.

Regardless, Gladwell provides summary. That's his purpose. 'Blink' and 'The Tipping Point' provide some really useful critical-thinking tools to the culture at large, and as such they're useful contributions to the pop-culture canon.

Point is, I don't think that he doesn't know what he's talking about. Malcolm Gladwell's a really, really bright guy. I find it hard to believe that many people could present the ideas he does in as straightforward a way.
posted by spiderwire at 1:32 AM on February 25, 2006


Apparently you don't grasp the concept (with which trey agreed) that "bitching about something ... just makes you look like a dick, most of the time." So go ahead and bitch, despite the fact that nobody cares and you look like a dick.

I don't think he is coming across as a dick. He comes across as someone who has a critique even though it is a bit shallow and he gives it short shrift perhaps due to trying to be on the cynical edge. He probably has something better to do than offer a rigorous rebuttal. If anyone ever asked me if they should read nixerman's comments I'd say "Read them yourself and decide". They never ask though.
posted by srboisvert at 9:03 AM on February 25, 2006


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