Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gladwell Links

First, here's Malcolm Gladwell's latest New Yorker article on the relationship between football and brain damage.

Second, here's an interesting TED talk from a few years back on how we ended up with so many varieties of spaghetti sauce.

This talk truly reinforces the principle that new products/markets are created and old ones expanded in response to a variety of needs. It is surprising that it took so long for companies to realize that a one size fits all approach necessarily limits the demand for their product. On the other hand, more than 30 types of pasta sauce is a bit ridiculous.
I found his point about humans not being able to effectively articulate what they want to be interesting. It is easier to express what you do not want or what you do not like when it comes to tomato sauce, than it is to come up with your ideal tomato sauce.
In response to Andrew's comment that he's surprised that it took companies so long to realize that the one size fits all approach limits demand, if people didn't know anything else, if it was the norm at the time to simply have one pasta sauce, people didn't necessarily realize they needed more options. Leading to the companies continuing to produce the same options. Perhaps people started demanding more variety once they were offered it, and that in a way supply created demand.
In the football and brain damage article, Malcolm Gladwell made an excellent point that it is actually economics that drives the irrationality and brutality behind both football and dogfights. No matter what breakthroughs are made in science, as long as there are jeering fans willing to pay and young college players eager to sign a contract, football players will continue to suffer through the astonishing head trauma so prevalent in the sport.
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