Gladwell Dash Anderson

There’s been a lot to do about Mal­colm Glad­well’s crit­i­cism (some­what heat­ed giv­en Glad­well’s usu­al­ly calm writ­ing and demeanor) of Chris Ander­son­’s new book Free: The Future of a Rad­i­cal Price 1. I’m a fan of both Glad­well and Ander­son, though I think Ander­son­’s The Long Tail was a much more down-to-earth book when it comes to busi­ness. I think that Glad­well’s books have some­thing of a spir­i­tu­al feel to them, with lit­tle to pro­vide in terms of guid­ance on business.

But after read­ing into Glad­well’s crit­i­cism of Free, it rang very hol­low to me. I think Anil Dash explains it per­fect­ly (empha­sis his):

The core of Glad­well’s argu­ment is sim­ple: “Free” fails to pro­vide data to sup­port its claims about the future of pric­ing, using anec­dote and con­fi­dent asser­tion in place of actu­al evi­dence. In his objec­tion to this method­ol­o­gy, Glad­well seems unchar­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly stri­dent, com­pared to his usu­al mea­sured tones. When­ev­er I see some­body get­ting their dan­der up, I think of one of the first things I ever blogged about ten year ago: We hate most in oth­ers that which we fail to see in our­selves. Ah hah!

Anec­dotes are just that. Maybe both of them will be vin­di­cat­ed as hav­ing bril­liant insight into how mass mar­kets work. But just men­tion­ing a cou­ple of exam­ples that sup­port a guy feel­ing are only enough get folks’ atten­tion, not prove any­thing

Of course, I’ll con­tin­ue to read just about every­thing both author’s write in the New York­er, Wired, or in long-form print.

Update: I made a small edi­to­r­i­al change to the arti­cle regard­ing using quo­ta­tion marks ver­sus ital­ics for titles.

  1. You can read Ander­son­’s ini­tial arti­cle on Free-conom­ics at Wired and I’ll be writ­ing my review here as soon as I get my hands on a copy to read. []

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