Doing a little research in Malcom Gladwell’s book the Tipping Point, I think we can try to pinpoint why Steve Pavlina’s Article “How to be an early riser” became an ideavirus and tipped (see my previous post for details). Gladwell’s thesis that ideas, products, messages and behaviors “spread just like viruses do” explains the growth of “word-of-mouth epidemics” that are triggered with the help of three pivotal types. These are Connectors, sociable personalities who bring people together; Mavens, who like to pass along knowledge; and Salesmen, adept at persuading the unenlightened. (Paul Revere, for example, was a Maven and a Connector).
So who were the Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen who took Steve’s article from the benign to the pages of the highly rated kottke.org. Let’s take a look at Steve’s usual blog readers. There is a growing community of blogs and newsgroups interested in personal development (this blog being one of them). These blogs tend to interact with each other with interesting posts and cross-posts. You can find Steves blog listed and trackbacked on them almost on a daily basis. These would be the mavens as they like to pass along knowledge.
Some of these same sites would also be considered connectors as they also bring people together. But I think the real connectors in this case were the more social blogs. They had found a solution to an agonizing problem (lack of sleep) and they were passing it along to all types of blogs and bloggers. Here is where the real epidemic came in as you had a much larger pool of people interacting with each other.
The salesmen in this story were the more professional bloggers, like Rosa Say and Kevin Eikenberry whose blogs are part of their businesses. These are the real professionals who gave authority to the story and were able to “sell” it to their clients and readers. By the time this story was on Kottke and Fark, you had a lot of high rated sites that had “sold” the concept.
These are my observations to this interesting phenomemon. I’d like to hear yours.