In The Deviant's Advantage, Ryan Mathews and Watts Wacker demonstrate how ideas create increasingly profitable markets as they move from The Fringe, to the Edge, to the Realm of the Cool, to the Next Big Thing, to Social Convention. The book tracks the products and people haunting the fringes of sex, science, art, language, faith, war and marketing, branding and macro-economics. Tomorrow's commercial success is an obsession in the mind of today's deviant. Las Vegas is a perfect example: it morphed from a bus stop in the desert to a neon 'Sin City' and finally into a family vacation destination. In 1945 a handsome, murderous sociopath called Benny 'Bugsy' Siegel decided to build a luxury gambling oasis in the desert. At the time, Las Vegas was a crossroads in the middle of the desert. Siegel understood the emerging desire for escape in the American psyche - and out of nothing, created what became an enormous gambling haven. Las Vegas has now transformed itself into a gigantic family-oriented theme park, albeit one with slots and roulette wheels. It's become a holiday destination for the entire family, not just a place that fathers sneak off to. Las Vegas moved from the Fringe (Bugsy's original vision), to the Edge (the first hotel), to the Realm of the Cool (where everyone wanted to go), to the Next Big Thing (where everyone went), to Social Convention.
Consultants (and "futurists") Mathews and Wacker present a book about cashing in on weird ideas. Defining deviance as "something or someone operating in a defined measure away from the norm," the authors examine the transformation that takes fringe ideas-such as jazz, holistic medicine, and even personal computing-into mass markets. They use examples such as Virgin mogul Richard Branson (whom they call a "poster boy" for deviance, because of his notion that everyday people should be able to have a lifestyle that would normally be closed to them) to show the process of taking a peripheral idea mainstream and applying it to one's business, even addressing the inevitable occurrence of the once-fringe idea becoming cliche. Although laden with trendy made-up words, e.g., "devox" and "prescreen," Mathews's and Wacker's intriguing book is a fun mix of business savvy and social commentary that will surely appeal to the Fast Company crowd.