Malcolm Gladwell is a journalist who has written on cultural phenomena: Blink is about rapid recognition, Outliers is about things that lie outside normal experience or expectations, and Tipping Point is about how change sometimes happens quickly and unexpectedly.
Your editor has been thinking about that tipping point as it relates to the effort to find every Kewpie before our August gathering in Columbia.
Our little campaign has been happening since Feburary 1st this year and the rate of progress has been slowing in the last few weeks.
It makes total sense. When you are looking for something (or someone), you look where you think you'll find it/them. This has worked pretty well for a dozen weeks. We have been looking in central Missouri, eastern Kansas, around St. Louis and in Dallas-Ft. Worth. There's a remarkable visualization of our search on our Kewpie diaspora map.
But a map doesn't show how we are looking for Kewpies; it shows where we have found them. Describing the "how" is fairly simple.
A group of volunteers have largely depended on four resources: Charley Blackmore's kewpie.net, facebook, dexknows.com and people's little black books. These websites are powerful search tools and we can't under-estimate their importance. But nothing is more powerful than a little black book.
Major progress came as more people got involved in the search. Each one of us shared our unique network of friendships and affiliations that, ultimately, connected 495 of us.
But, as I said, progress toward our goal of finding 100% of the 1971 Kewpies is slowing. And it might be true that adding more people to the search party will only result in trampling the grass. Unless we change 'how' we search, it won't matter how many of us are looking.
Missing Car Keys
I think we have finally reached the mythical tipping point. Fewer than 200 'missing' classmates are still out there. Maybe, we aren't looking in the right place but they're just out of view. I would call this the "Misplaced Car Keys (rhymes with Kewpies) Phenomena." You know they're around here someplace but you're danged if you can find them. You keep looking where you think you left them but no matter how many times you look in the same place in the same way - they're not there.
Only problem, people are not car keys. People got legs! And we know more than nothing about where people are or where they've been. We count someone as 'missing' when we can't confirm their current contact information. These 'missers' share some traits that make finding them difficult:
So how do you move from 465 easy-to-find people to finding the last 195 hard-to-find folks?
There are already some things in the works.
Friends are contacting friends about friends. We'll begin soliciting clues from you through this website. We think many Kewpies are still nearby -- sort of looking under the newspapers for the car keys, I suppose. We'll continue trolling the internet.
And we'll need your help. We never could do any of this without your help. Has anyone thanked you, recently?