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Malcolm Gladwell wants his new podcast to make you cry

The "Tipping Point" author and New Yorker columnist is getting into audio.


Malcolm Gladwell, the author of "The Tipping Point" and a columnist for the New Yorker, is famous for blending social science with reporting to create "a-ha" moments for readers. But during his latest project, he had an epiphany of his own.

"[I realized], 'Wait a minute, I can finally make people cry,'" Gladwell recounted on the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka.

His new podcast with Slate’s Panoply network, "Revisionist History," tries to make listeners rethink things from the past that have been "misunderstood or unjustly forgotten," he said. The nature of podcasting makes his relationship with those listeners profoundly different from what it would be with a written column in a place like the New Yorker.

"Because it’s audio, you can do this magnificent thing that you can’t do on the page: You can move people emotionally," Gladwell said. "You feel with your ears and you think with your eyes."

On the new Recode Media, he also talked about how he wandered into a job at the venerable Washington Post in the 1980s; what he thinks of the supposed backlash against his style of social science-infused writing; and the proliferation of mass shootings in America, and why other countries don't have the same problem.

"Mass shootings are about troubled people finding scripts that allow them to play certain roles in society and fulfill certain fantasies," Gladwell said. "Every culture in the world has troubled people, but the scripts that are available to their people are different."

ISIS has provided this sort of script to people in the U.S., Gladwell added, such as the San Bernardino shooters last year and, reportedly, Orlando shooter Omar Mateen. Similarly, the Columbine shootings and their underground fanbases online fostered an outline for what later school shootings "should" look like.

"One of the reasons school shootings have persisted is that the internet allows these subcultures to flourish," Gladwell said. "Everything that a school shooter needs to feed his poisoned imagination and fulfill his demented fantasies can be found on the internet."

You can feel your way over to Recode Media in the audio player above, or subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher is a weekly show featuring in-depth interviews with the movers and shakers in tech and media every Monday. You can subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge's Lauren Goode, answers all of the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.
  • And finally, Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, such as last week's Code Conference, Recode Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on iTunes — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Peter. Tune in next Thursday for another episode of Recode Media!

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