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Why Malcolm Gladwell Needs a Dictionary

November 9, 2011

If you haven’t yet read Malcolm Gladwell’s article in The New Yorker, definitely check it out. He summarizes Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, pointing out his many idiosyncracies, which made him seemingly unbearable to live with.

He argues that Jobs was more of a “tweaker” than an “innovator.”

I’m an avid reader of Gladwell’s work, having read “The Tipping Point,” “Blink” and “Outliers” but I have to disagree with this argument.

I think he meant to say that Gladwell was not an inventor. He surely is an innovator:


One of the definitions is “a person who introduces new methods, ideas, or products.”

Jobs pioneered the user experience for consumer products. How is that not innovation?

Another word in which Gladwell used in the article is “tweaker” which @mathewi astutely pointed out is a common slang term for methamphetamine addicts:

Gladwell may be brilliant, but he clearly needs a dictionary.