Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Watercooler Effect by Nicholas DiFonzo (a review)

2 out of 5: The Watercooler Effect is a book about rumors: why rumors start, how and why they spread, why we believe them (or don’t), and how best to manage them. Rumor is an interesting premise, but DiFonzo doesn’t have enough material to sustain momentum for a full-length book. In short, rumors are “shared sensemaking”—that is, “the predominant means by which we make sense of the world together.” According to the Law of Rumor, “[r]umors abound in proportion to the ambiguity or uncertainty inherent in a situation, and the importance of the topic.” How does one avoid or quash rumors? By reducing uncertainty through improved communications. Now that I’ve revealed all the secrets, you don’t need to read the book. Over 200+ pages, the repetitions and common sense conclusions in The Watercooler Effect become tedious. This material would have made an engaging essay, but, unless you have an above-average interest in rumors, skip the book.


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