Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Malcolm Gladwell

I ended up going to see Gladwell this evening at UTC as I had been hoping to. It didn't work out quite as I had been thinking. Out of my Psychology of Communication class in which the trip had been suggested only two other students and I had interest in going (which surprised me seeing as how much the class seemed to like Blink). Then, one of them couldn't go because he had work to do this evening for the school newspaper. In the end, it was just my friend Maddie and I who went. It ended up being a fun time though.

The event was expected to be over-attended, and seeing as by the time we figured out that we were the only people going we were only half an hour early, I expected we would end up in the overflow room. When we arrived however, the first overflow room was already full, so we were sent across the street the second overflow room. We were some of the first people in and thought there couldn't possibly be many more people coming. It filled up too though, and pretty soon people were being turned away. By the time the lecture actually started there were something like four overflow auditoriums, and the staff had started packing people into class rooms and having them watch on computer screens. So while we didn't get the best seats in the house, it could have been much worse.

Aside from Gladwell giving an awesome speech on the financial crisis of 2007 and the attitudes that precipitated it, the coolest thing about the event was that they had a live twitter feed on the big screens and a hashtag for the event itself. I had heard of it before, but until experiencing it, I never knew how much fun it could be to tweet whatever you want onto a screen that close to a thousand people are seeing.

Gladwells lecture was really good. He used an analogy from the civil war (which he also mentions in the afterword to the latest editions of blink) where the Union General Hooker with his larger forces and precise battlefield intelligence was defeated by the underdog Lee. Gladwell's main point ended up being that overconfidence is dangerous, even more so than incompetence, the reason being that incompetent people tend to not be in positions of power, whereas overconfident people typically are. He then compared this case study from history to the attitudes of investment bankers before the financial meltdown a few years ago. He summed up his speech with this statement: "In times of crisis we think we need to rely our leader's ability or expertise, when we really need to rely on our leader's humility."

1 comment:

Lindsay said...

I'm so glad you got to go! I wish I could have. Thanks for sharing about it.