An article in this months Fastcompany magazine shows that Malcolm Gladwell was wrong in his book ‘The Tipping Point’, about how trends emerge through a small group of super-influential individuals.
It describes the work of social network theorist Duncan Watts, now at Yahoo and on sabbatical from Columbia University, who has conducted some real and much larger scale experiments on how trends spread through a network. In his studies, the people who started different trends within his experiments were virtually entirely random throughout the network, not limited to minority of influencers.
This article and non-Gladwellian (!) phenomenon has been discussed intelligently elsewhere (here and here), but reading the article reminded me of one of my favourite quotes by the anthropologist Margaret Mead as follows:
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."