[Randall] Collins's point is not that innovation attracts groups but that innovation is found in groups: that it tends to arise out of social interaction—conversation, validation, the intimacy of proximity, and the look in your listener's eye that tells you you're onto something...
...[Jenny] Uglow's book reveals how simplistic our view of groups really is. We divide them into cults and clubs, and dismiss the former for their insularity and the latter for their banality. The cult is the place where, cut off from your peers, you become crazy. The club is the place where, surrounded by your peers, you become boring. Yet if you can combine the best of those two states —- the right kind of insularity with the right kind of homogeneity —- you create an environment both safe enough and stimulating enough to make great thoughts possible.
Uglow's book, "The Lunar Men", is about a group of friends that included Erasmus Darwin, James Watt, and Joseph Priestley. Gladwell compares them to another famous troupe, whose august members included Belushi, Aykroyd, and Radner. It's compelling reading.
And when Gladwell talks about stimulating but somewhat insular environments, I wonder if the medlogs regulars don't fit the bill.
Then again, it's good to have Dr. Charles remind us that the "Grand" in Grand Rounds doesn't mean grandiose.