Friday, July 17, 2009

Blink with your ears

I am currently experiencing my first audiobook, Malcolm Gladwell's Blink.  This book was a huge hit a few years ago and as I've been on a big audio lecture kick over the past few months, I decided to try listening to an audio book.  I chose Gladwell b/c he's easy to digest, and from what I've heard about blink, I knew the book would be captivating without being too dense.  Blink is about making snap decisions, or as it is apparently really called, "think-slicing".  Studies have shown that people have a remarkable ability to reach accurate conclusions rapidly, with only key amounts of information.  For example, the first example is describes how art experts were able to detect a fraud at first glance, even though careful research on its background and chemical tets to determine its age all indicated that it was authentic.  One conclusion of this book is that amount of info is much less important than the quality of info and excess info can actually impair correct decision making.  I think the implication of this is that in the internet age, info quantity is no longer an issue.  In the Pre-net era, info was treasured due to its scarcity and no accurate info was seen as "bad".  But today, paucity of info is never a problem and so we have a contradiction between the old values which prioritize amount of info vs the new reality, where accurate info is readily available.  I've often thought about this in reference to music.  If you can download basically every song ever for free, the question becomes, which songs are worth listening to?


  1. that's funny I listened to the audio version of this book as well...but only because my mom put a hold on the wrong one from the library. I liked it. But you know how I feel about him...did we ever have the Gladwell/Kingwell discussion?

    Good job with the blog!

  2. Hey GT yes, I know how you feel, but does that extend to all his work, or just that particular debate? The thing that's great about him is how he makes the material so accessible. And I must confess I like the fact that the author himself is the reader. Speaking of Gladwell/Kingwell, I think I'll post up a link to that...