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  CONTENTS >> LEAD STORY   February 2003

The Tipping Point

An Interview with Malcolm Gladwell About How People Can Change the World

By John Milton Fogg

Malcolm Gladwell was a science writer for The Washington Post when he was reassigned as New York City bureau chief. When he arrived in New York City, it was a dangerous place. Three years later, the burglary rate had dropped by 70 percent--and the Big Apple was the safest big city in the country! Gladwell realized that many such real-life changes could not be explained through conventional models: enter "the tipping point"--both the concept, and the best-selling book of the same name. Drawing from psychology, sociology and epidemiology, using examples from the worlds of business, society, education, fashion and media, Gladwell's book shows people how to start "positive epidemics." "The virtue of an epidemic is that just a little input is enough to get it started, and it can spread very, very quickly. ...Epidemics are generated by an incredibly small fraction of the population. If you want to create change, the challenge is not to reach as many people as you can--the challenge is to reach that relatively small number of people who play a disproportionately large role in creating change."

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