terça-feira, 14 de maio de 2013

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell - Review By Mark Flanagan, About.com Guide

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Review By Mark Flanagan, About.com Guide

Malcolm Gladwell  excels at pinpointing a social phenomenon, be it cultural epidemics (The Tipping Point) or snap judgements (Blink); putting forth his thesis; and illustrating his proof through a series of short, engaging, self-encapsulated histories. In Outliers, he examines the phenomenon of high achievement, fantasic stories of success often attributed to the tenacity, hard work, and innate individual talent. Gladwell doesn't discount the necessity of innate ability, and he points to hard work as a crucial factor for success in any endeavor. But he finds in these success stories that factors such as timing, circumstance, and cultural heritage play an oft-overlooked yet critical role. Outliers is Malcolm Gladwell's ode to these unsung heros.

In the first part of the book, Gladwell profiles high achievers and the historical conditions surrounding their successes, illustrating anecdotally how they prove what Gladwell calls the 10,000 Hour Rule, that mastery at anything - music, programming, sports, chess - is dependent upon 10,000 hours of practice, roughly three hours a day over the course of ten years.. In his illustrations, Gladwell shows how these individuals were provided with unique opportunities to log these critical practice hours.
In 1968, when Bill Gates was 13 years old, his school, Lakeside Academy in Seattle, Washington, acquired a computer, a terminal on which Gates could program non-stop for the next few years, a once in a lifetime opportunity to practice something that would have unforseen value. At the age of 16, Gates learned that a mainframe computer was available for free in the middle of the night at the nearby University of Washington. Unbeknown to his parents, the young Gates snuck out each night to write code between 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. Good fortune played an critical role in Bill Gates' success by allowing him significant programming practice time that very few others his age had during a critical juncture in computer history.
In Part II of Outliers, Gladwell shifts his focus from circumstantial good fortune and serendipitous timing to the cultural legacies we inherit from our forbears. Key among the illustrations in this section is that of agrarian Chinese from Southern China, who for thousands of years engineered, built, and toiled in rice paddies. The work is famously grueling as well as surprisingly complex, and Gladwell contrasts Chinese commitment in this rigor to the lassitude of peasant farmers in Europe, pointing to the differences in the different systems that evolved around the two forms of work. Through a string of narrative that also references studies of mathematical learning, Gladwell leads us deftly to very plausible explanations for the truth inherent in cultural stereotypes about Asians in academia.

Malcolm Gladwell is a gifted story-teller, and his ability to present his ideas within compelling narrative form is half of what makes his work so engaging and popular. The other half of course is his ability to ask questions, synthesize ideas, and make connections where others fail to see them, or where those who do lack the narrative ability to serve them up irresistibly as Gladwell is known to do.

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