Tuesday, January 31, 2017

HIT MAKERS by Derek Thompson

HIT MAKERS by Derek Thompson is a new book showing that “hits” in music, movies, and books depend on Chaos theory: a “Happy Days” alignment of people, culture, ideas, and timing. Since we have moved to a Twitter society of many choices and low attention span, people tend to gravitate to fewer things by following what is most popular (instead of what is best.) This creates an environment of many failures and fewer successes, with a “microscopic few” reaping most of the benefits. Essentially, we are bewildered by choice, and look to social media to direct us…while social media platforms spy on us and direct our attention to those things which generate the most profit. (Junk food, prescription drugs, blockbuster cartoon movies, bestsellers.) An interesting sociology and psychology/marketing book with the subtitle, “The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction,” it reveals why things become hits (songs/movies/books/ideas.) Mostly it's the right alignment at the right time. The song "Rock Around the Clock" was a dud when first released. Then, with a different venue, (due to its being the opening song in Blackboard Jungle,) it went viral to become the first and biggest rock song of all time. Same influences could be cited for The DaVinci Code or Fifty Shades of Grey, which went viral not simply due to controversy but because celebrities mentioned them, and an aura was created by influencers and fan fiction sites. The author narrates, displaying an ability to maintain interest through an engaged curiosity and fascination with his subject. Recommended for anyone who wants to know how culture and social media affects buying decisions, and also for those who don’t realize why and how they are being manipulated.

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