Sunday, January 08, 2012


I finally got around to reading Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.  I'm glad I read it, but was not particularly compelled by the reading experience. I found the repetition of stories a bit distracting -- each case study was given mostly intact, then pieced out 7 or 8 more times throughout the book. Rather than creating layers of meaning, it seemed to create noise. Nonetheless, Gladwell seems good at anticipating many of the questions that an average reader might have as the stories unfold, and gets around to addressing most of them with some clarity and style. This is no easy task for a writer -- most books I put down are the result of a writer having little insight into the kind of interior landscapes they are building with their own words.

I was not necessarily convinced by some of his proximate conclusions (e.g. the ease or consistency of mind-reading, the idea that nuances and emotion can be stripped from observation) but I do come away from the read with some respect for Gladwell's approach to problem-solving:
1. differentiate between straightforward decisions (that benefit from wide knowledge and slow, deliberate consideration) and complicated decisions (that benefit from wisdom and experience expressed in the unconscious)
2. examine the context for decision-making, address the way instinctive judgements are made in these contexts, and narrow the field of evidence (adding or eliminating the parts that interfere with a clean decision) to closely match the decisions that need to be made


Anonymous said...

read outliers by same author

searcy said...

I was not really impressed by Blink. I read it a few years ago and found most of his arguments interesting but not particularly convincing. I do however recommend "Outliers"