Malcolm Gladwell

/ 26 April 2003

I often use a PBS Frontline video entitled “The Merchants of Cool” in my “proactive ministry in a media culture” class. One of the writers interviewed in that video is Malcolm Gladwell, who is also the author of the “The Tipping Point,” a required book in my class. Recently I was surfing the web trying to figure out what else he is working on these days, and discovered that he is the author of one of my more favorite essays — “The Social Life of Paper” — which he has made available on the web. At the time I first read the essay, I hadn’t yet enountered his other pieces, so I guess his name hadn’t sunk in to my consciousness. One of his points in the article is that paper has some unique qualities that support specific kinds of collaborative thinking, which is one reason that it hasn’t disappeared, even with the advent of digital technologies. I think this is yet another example of the cultural embeddedness of a specific medium.