This Afternoon Malcolm Gladwell Was Sort of Sad, and Then Happy

This afternoon in an “Ask the Author Live” chat on The New Yorker‘s website, staff writer Malcolm Gladwell had a pleasant back-and-forth with readers about his recent column. They were asking him questions about Twitter and its limitations, and he was elaborating on his ideas, sometimes with the help of emoticons.

Mr. Gladwell turned to emoticons twice during the chat. The first time he used an ambiguous blush with pursed lips (this could be construed as “:-/” or “:-|”). The second emoticon was a sunglasses-on smile (probably just a normal “:-)”).

and then later .. 

The sunglasses-on smile emoticon is very appropriate in this instance because Mr. Gladwell was being a little tongue in cheek (“:-^”). Meanwhile Jonah Lehrer, who also writes about matters of pop science, wrote a column this afternoon for Wired pushing back against Mr. Gladwell’s dismissal of Twitter. Mr. Lehrer has written for The New Yorker, too.

In his rseponse, Mr. Lehrer drew from a 1973 essay “The Strength of Weak Ties” to say that weak ties — the connections between Twitter users for example — might be useful to forming bonds that can effect social change. “Just a quick note on Malcolm Gladwell’s Twitter/Social Change article,” wrote Mr. Lehrer. “It’s an extremely thought-provoking piece, written with the usual Gladwellian flair.”

Mr. Lehrer’s “quick note” was more than 700 words (he was a Rhodes Scholar). In any case, “usual Gladwellian Flair” sounds sort of … “:-(“

Earlier: Internal Memo: Malcolm Gladwell This Afternoon Malcolm Gladwell Was Sort of Sad, and Then Happy