Alex's Reviews > Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes

Microtrends by Mark J. Penn
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May 17, 2009

did not like it
Read in June, 2009

I had decided in the first quarter of the book that this was not a good read, but as with most other not-so-good books I have read in the past, I had to finish it - some kind of an OCD need to come to a conclusion? Once I decided to hate the book, I was going to start taking notes in the margins of the points I disagreed with and the shoddy throwaway attempts at humor that peppered Penn's research, but I am far too lazy to do that. So then my next plan was to just dog-ear some pages and quote from them, but I left the book in Texas when I finished it... so... yeah.

The topic is an interesting one, interesting enough for me to read non-fiction (a rarity). Penn is a successful pollster and he has pointed out 75 examples of how small groups can yield political and social power once they become 1% of the population. And some of his findings were very interesting - I have and will continue to mention them conversationally. For example, there are more straight women out there than straight men, so there are going to be a subset of the female population who never gets married because there aren't enough guys. What bugged me is that Penn, in the quest for the nice round number 75, started mentioning things that in no way approached 1%, which by his definition wouldn't make it a microtrend, so he shouldn't have mentioned them in a book about microtrends. The one that pissed me off the most was his look at Calorie-Restricting Diets. By his own admission in that section, he says that there are really only several thousand participants of this specific diet, which is a long way off 3,000,000.

Other trends are tough to quantify, yet he still tried to - ex. Long-Attention-Span People must all run marathons because that takes a long time?!?

I think had Penn taken his 20 or 25 strongest microtrends and expounded upon them, he would have had a more solid thesis and if he had listened to an editor, he would have had a more well-written text. But as it stands, this book was a chore and a bore.
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