Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Malcolm Gladwell Author of Outliers Speak in London Nov 24 2008

After having a night to sleep on what I heard from Malcolm Gladwell here are my comments. Note, I have read all his books including Outliers and attended his early sold-out show in London on November 24.

Gladwell participated in a BBC Radio 4 show http://tinyurl.com/5584ra , one of the panelists singled out the aircraft story as exceptional.

Less than 12 hours later Gladwell stands before a packed house at London's Lyceum Theatre without a pre-planned theme or even topic. This point was well explored in Stephen Moss's guardian article. http://tinyurl.com/5cwq2e

Here are some points which strike me .

The radio show gave him the topic of his talk later that day. I believe it accounted for the material appearing slightly disorganized, however it was still entertaining.

His theme the "ethnic theory of plane crashes" pointed to the Outliers theme in a creative way.

Gladwell wove many stories, including 2 other airplane disasters around the main theme of the Columbian airline's Avianca 052 plane crash. This led the audience to almost forget that we are listening to a plane crash story.

Along the way we learned (and not necessarily in this order) that those who remain angry in the southern USA point to the belligerence their forebears displayed when they lived in England, Scotland and Ireland. Hundreds of years had not changed them.

We learned about power-distance index, where very few crashes occur when the co-pilot is flying the plane. Indicating you may be safer with the co-pilot in a disaster. This has widespread significance for all power relationships; husband-wife, student-teacher, boss-employee.

We learned that Jamaicans have more in common with Danes than say Barbadians. We also learned why.

We found out that Gladwell is English, a fact that the English struggle with to this day. In the UK unless all four of your grandparents are born in England and are white, you are not actually considered as English by many. You are British perhaps. Gladwell has a Jamaican mother and an English Father.

And finally we are faced with the fact that the Bush era is over. Outliers like Obama, Gladwell and most of his audience last night have been handed the keys to the world. And just like that, he crashed Avianca short of landing and exited stage left. London is still in shock!

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