June Books 4) The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell
A very interesting and short book on how epidemics - particularly epidemics of ideas, the kind of thing we now call memes - spread among humanity. Gladwell identifies three distinct groups of people who become instrumental in selling innovation (or indeed decay) to the rest of us: Mavens, who just love collecting knowledge and shring it; Connectors, who are the vectors for transmitting new things to other people; and Salesmen, who are the persuaders necessary for a critical mass of Connectors to take on the ideas of the Mavens. It's not a perfect typology - I think I have some elements of both Maven and Connector, and a small amount of Salesman, and also I think that there are cases of quite different diffusion (and Gladwell indeed gives some examples which don't actually fit). It also struck me that I had read a fair bit of this before, whether in newspaper extracts of Gladwell's writing or in other books. But I'm very sympathetic to the basic point, which is that the crucial determinant of whether ideas become generally accepted is more often the way in which they come to be presented to the population as a whole, rather than their actual truth content. And it is breezily written, and as I said mercifully short.