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Joao Medeiros: November 2008 Archives

By Joao Medeiros

Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell (Courtesy; Brooke Williams)

Malcolm Gladwell, the virtuoso author of Tipping Point (which covered the work of physicists like Duncan Watts and Albert-Laszlo Barabasi) and Blink, came to London for one day to present his new book, Outliers, to a packed audience at the Lyceum Theatre.

Gladwell is a maverick science journalist (or what “maverick” used to mean pre-Sarah Palin). He invented “pop economics” with his writing, spawning a whole new class of books like Freakonomics, The Long Tail, Here Comes Everybody, …. He works for the New Yorker, where he regularly writes about his niche subject: everything.

Gladwell is not a typical science journalist. He’s an original observer (not necessarily an original thinker — he defines himself as a communicator of science) that is driven by his own curiosity rather than following the agenda of scientists. Whereas most science journalists browse the scientific literature in search for the “what’s hot in science”, Gladwell follows his own instinct and curiosity. He starts his stories by asking by asking very simple questions about pretty much anything that crosses his way: “What is Cesar Milan ( from the TV show “The dog whisperer”) secret?”, “Why is there only one variety of Ketchup?”, “Why do we usually relate genius to precocity?”, etc etc These are questions that most people probably dismiss as random daydreaming divagations.