Friday, December 28, 2007

Word for the day: vervetish.
Like a vervet, which is a kind of monkey common in South Africa.
It's a real world, but it's only ever used once, on page 159 of Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point. That's roughly book 50.
…anthropologists who study vervets find that these kinds of monkeys are really bad at picking up the significance .... This doesn’t mean that vervets are stupid: they are very sophisticated when it comes to questions that have to do with other vervets… a vervet, in other words, is very good at processing certain kinds of vervetish information, but not so good at processing other kinds of information.
My sister gave me the book for christmas. It's wonderful. It's a fun read, a pageturner, and it tells a story about how social changes happen fast. One sub-story is about Paul Revere and his midnight ride, and how and why Paul won the battle that started the war that started this country. He wasn't just some guy with a horse.
His thesis (Gladwell, not the horse) is that tipping points come from communicators and mavens and contexts.
That doesn't make sense yet, but it's worth reading the book to find out what he means.
When I came to the word "vervetish" I got up out of bed and googled it. There's only three hits, and all of them are quoting Gladwell. When it comes to vervetishness, Gladwell is the tipping point. Pretty soon we'll all be saying it. Or not.

Update: a second use documented: my sister writes
We went camping yesterday and brought our coke can stove which an ex-marine survival guy made for us - here's a different but similar video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBvZPEcpNRE&NR=1
Pretty cool - we use "Heet" car stuff for fuel. Came in handy during a recent storm and day and a half power outage (our gas stove worked but we didn't know it at first).
A lot of people here seem to be into end of the world as we know it type survival gear. Mauians can possibly be somewhat vervetish...

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