Malcolm Gladwell, staff writer for the New Yorker and author of the very popular book The Tipping Point, has a new book coming out in January: Blink, the Power of Thinking without Thinking. Here’s what he has to say about the new book.
“It’s a book about rapid cognition, about the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye. When you meet someone for the first time, or walk into a house you are thinking of buying, or read the first few sentences of a book, your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusion. Well, “Blink” is a book about those two seconds, because I think those instant conclusions that we reach are really powerful and really important and, occasionally, really good.
“You could also say that it’s a book about intuition, except that I don’t like that word. In fact it never appears in “Blink.” Intuition strikes me as a concept we use to describe emotional reactions, gut feelings–thoughts and impressions that don’t’ seem entirely rational. But I think that what goes on in that first two seconds is perfectly rational. It’s thinking–its just thinking that moves a little faster and operates a little more mysteriously than the kind of deliberate, conscious decision-making that we usually associate with “thinking.” In “Blink” I’m trying to understand those two seconds. What is going on in inside our heads when we engage in rapid cognition? When are snap judgments good and when are they not? What kinds of things can we do to make our powers of rapid cognition better?”
I enjoyed the Tipping Point very much, and I can’t wait to rush out and buy Blink. Read more of what Malcolm Gladwell has to say about his new book here.
Postscript: Malcolm has a good article in the current issue of The New Yorker about plagiarism. “Words belong to the person who wrote them,” writes Gladwell. “There are few simpler ethical notions than this one, particularly as society directs more and more energy and resources toward the creation of intellectual property. In the past thirty years copyright laws have been strengthened. Courts have become more willing to grant intellectual-property protections. Fighting piracy has become an obsession with Hollywood and the recording industry, and, in the worlds of academia and publishing, plagiarism has gone from being bad literary manners to something much closer to a crime. When, two years ago Doris Kearns Goodwin was found to have lifted passages from several other historians she was asked to resign from the board of the Pulitzer Prize committee. And why not? If she had robbed a bank, she would have been fire the next day.”
This is an important issue. As a writer and editor, I have a closer understanding of the issues Gladwell brings up in his article. Intellectual property rights and plagiarism are serious issues. Even for bloggers. Part of the reason I started this blog was to simply point out some of the things that I was reading and thinking about to family and friends in the hopes of generating lively discussion. I quote many writers’ books and articles. But when I do, I make sure to use direct quotation marks when I am quoting them. And I provide a link to the original article so that readers can read an entire piece for themselves.
I believe this is important. With a background in journalism, I have an appreciation for these issues. Maybe I wouldn’t have had such a respect for the written word had I started this blog without it. I don’t want to sound like I am condescendingly scolding other bloggers out there, but it’s an issue that we writers in cyberspace must think about. By their very nature, blogs comment on other’s thoughts, whether they are generated in print or online. It’s important for use to acknowledge the source of our ideas.
In our own small way, we are still publishers. No, we don’t have printing presses rolling in our dark corner basements, but when we pound the keys, say our bit about America and hit “post” our words are out there for the world to see under our banner–in this case ‘Typeface.’ Not to sound preachy, but there endeth the lesson, I guess. Keep blogging, but if you use any words from here as your own, I’m coming for you … only kidding.