Review of The Tipping Point

When reading “The Tipping Point” I really enjoyed the concept that an idea can spread like an epidemic. In order to reach this tipping point, this idea must have key factors to help this idea reach the point of critical mass and once it hits this point, it spreads like wildfire. I believe this concept is fascinating because I did not realize that once an idea hits a critical point then it becomes viral. An example in “The Tipping Point” that really stood out to me involved children who chose to watch Blue’s Clues over Sesame Street. Before we can understand why children enjoyed this show more, I must explain what it means for a television show to be “sticky”. When something is sticky, it means that people remember it well without needing to be exposed to it over and over again. Authors try to make their books sticky by adding illustrations to allow the reader to recall what happened on the page and not have to read it over again, especially for a young audience. Television is a perfect example of a sticky medium because visually watching a show sticks in the minds of people very well. So, for a children’s show, producers want to have extra sticky elements to make kids want to watch their show over another one. The creation of “Sesame Street” tried to use this sticky tactic to incorporate ways for children to learn new things such as the alphabet. These producers wanted to make learning things that children need to learn sticky and easy to remember. Sesame Street was an incredibly witty show that included learning many new things and even incorporated celebrity guest. Parents loved these shows and were able to appreciate the celebrity guests and witty remarks, but Sesame Street was not sticking with children. Years later, the same producers attempted to make a show with these same educational techniques but tried to make it stickier to children. They decided to make this new show more straightforward and much simpler than Sesame Street. This was how “Blue’s Clues” came about. They made Blue’s clues have far fewer characters, and much less word play, and it effectively made this show much stickier than Sesame Street. Although these factors were helpful in the aid of Blue’s Clues tipping point these were not the factors that caused Blues Clues to tip. The most effective strategy was repeating the same episode multiple times a week. Because of the dynamic where children watched the episode multiple times a week, they were able to answer all the questions that characters in the show asked them correctly. Children enjoy being right so much that they wanted to continue watching the same episode where they know all the answers. This example is one of many that “The Tipping Point” used to explain how a show that was less witty, more repetitive, and easier to create was much more successful than a show with components that were much harder to write. This book really shows how little things can make a big difference when determining the success of an idea.


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