The Tipping Point is Easier to Achieve Today- The TEDx OC event.

11 09 2014

In 2000, Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called  The Tipping Point.  At that time, many of us thought it referred to diffusion and acceptance of new products or a random idea that turned into something viral and/or global.   Over the past 13 years, lots have changed and the concept of “Tipping Point has become to mean more than in the past.  In fact, if we look around, I believe we are seeing more Tipping Points for causes and ideas.  Why is that?

First, let’s define tipping point.   The tipping point is that moment when an idea, a concept, a product, or a cause spreads like wildfire.     Today the tipping point is easier to attain because of the following trends- mostly spawned by the internet.     I use the acronym IOPEN to capture the essence of the underpinnings to the tipping point.  Information (I), Opportunity (O), Publication (P), Engagement (EN).  Let’s look at each component of the tipping point very briefly.

Information:   Information is everywhere.  It sounds trite but think about the combination of the internet coupled with mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets making that information available to the masses.   When Gladwell’s book was first published there were “only” 360 million internet users, representing less than 6% of the world population.  Today, there are more than 2.9 billion internet users in the world, a little more than 40% of the entire population.

In 2000, there were basically no social sharing websites.  Certainly there were some community sites and the computer literate were sharing information.  Even in 2005, less than 5% of the internet users were using social networking sites.  Today, information abounds, ready for sharing as more than 74% of all adults online use a networking site.  There were no smart phones or tablets.  PCs were clunky  Just for perspective, the number of smartphone users is approximately 1.75 billion and number of tablets sold just last year was over 200 million with many people having multiple devices at their beck and call.  Just look around and see how many people carry a PC, smartphone, and tablet at the same time.  (FYI, I am one of them and if not all three devices, I always seem to have two at the ready.)  So information is available at an instant and sharable.

Opportunity:  A corollary to information is opportunity.  With the amount of information available via the internet and the growth in the number of social sites, it is clear that there is an opportunity to read, listen, watch, and hare ideas and information.  Many of you might recall that connectivity to the internet in 2000 was basically by DIAL ACCESS (very slow) using something called a PCMCIA card!!!   Today anyone can be connected at high speed through the cellular network or through nearly 5 million public hotspots.   Opportunity is therefore a function of number of social sites, access via devices (mobile, smartphones, PC), and speed of communication.

When news breaks you are there and in fact many people have become journalists of sorts.  This leads to the next aspect of publication.

Publication:  It seems like everyone has a camera in their hand and everyone is a photojournalist.  Think about your daily activities and how many pictures you take and send to friends or post to your social site.   How many people take pictures of event and publish them via Instagram or Youtube.  Youtube, the granddaddy of video sharing did not come into being until Feb 2005.  Today there are more than 1 billion unique users and more than 100 hours of vide are uploaded every minute.    And who doesn’t use Instagram.  Started less than 4 years ago, Instagram counts more than 200 million active users!!

How many of you have retweeted a post?  How many of you follow an author and have the ability to engage with that offer.  Even sports teams have gotten into the act in a big way using Facebook tools or social software.   For example, I am an avid football (American) fan and follow the NY Giants and am a regular contributor on their message boards as well as on the ESPN sites.   I also follow CNN and am prone to tweet and comment on stories that I either like or don’t like.   And more important, how many of you have the opportunity to create information at the instant it occurs through your smartphone and tablet?  And now the GoPro craze can store up to 8 hours of HD video for your private or public use.

The latest cause to catch hold is the ICE Bucket Challenge, a noble cause to raise funds for research for curing ALS.   The challenge first received increased media attention in the United States on June 30, 2014, when personalities of the program Morning Drive, which airs weekdays on Golf Channel, televised the social-media phenomenon, and performed a live, on-air Ice Bucket Challenge..  Soon after, the challenge was brought to mainstream audiences when television anchor Matt Lauer did the Ice Bucket Challenge on July 15, 2014 on NBC‘s The Today ShowSo far, only two months after the Ice Bucket Challenge went viral, more than $100 million has been raised.  Articles are posted on social sites, uploaded to Youtube, or sent around via Instagram on mobile devices.

Engagement:  This is the key to the tipping point.  As Gladwell says in his book,  “If you want to bring a fundamental change in people’s belief and behavior you need to create a community around them, where those new beliefs can be practices, and expressed and nurtured.”  This is the domain of the social networks.

Think back to the year 2000.  There some community sites and the rudiments of blogs which started in earnest in the late 90s.  But blogs did not come into play until the latter part of 2001 with the introduction of some political blogs.  One thing about politics that was true then as it is today, is that people do talk about it and share their views openly and freely.

There was no Facebook- which itself went through the Tipping point.   Today Facebook is the granddaddy of all social sites and claims more than 1.3 billion users.   Facebook encourages interaction making it easy to post on their timeline.   It’s even easier today since Facebook bought Instagram, making online publishing part of the engagement process   And let’s not forget Google who owns Youtube and started its own Google + engagement site.   The point is that today it is very easy to engage and talk about topics of interest and share that with thousands of people with a click of the mouse or a tap on the screen.

TEDx Orange Coast will have approximately 20,000 online viewers following the talks which will focus on the tipping point.   During this two day event you will hear about innovation, transparency v. privacy (and online personas), inequality, the wisdom of crowds, the internet of things, and a rebirth of education.     We will hear talks, stimulate your thinking, and create an interesting forum for sharing these ideas – or other ideas spawned during the sessions – with friends, colleagues, and acquaintances all around the world.  You certainly will have the information available and through your mobile device will be able to share the interesting ideas you learn or even you own ideas with others via your own social networks.  Who knows perhaps an idea at TEDx OC will be the next one that hits the tipping point and maybe you will be at the center of the latest rage.

Regardless, of what you do, I believe that the opportunity to listen, share, and engage with others at this superb two day event will be worthwhile and exciting.  And for many it will be life changing.  See you there.




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