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Flash Mobs!

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Bardo Thodol

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Okay... first of all this is just awesome!   :laugh_big:

And it just reaks of MillenniuM!

It sort of reminded me of the elusive e-power that the Avatar used to terrorize and play out his pathological game.  Only it is cyber-power on a social/collective behavior level, with 1 or 2 harmless "Avatars" setting up the harmless game through cyperspace.

It also struck me as something the Roedecker would be involved in or behind!   :laugh_big:

Sort of like... if you took Roedecker and Avatar, and blended them together at the sub-atomic level through the Millennium Group's secret scientific technologies!  :laugh_big:

Plus, it is completely a product of the culmination of the development of technology toward the end of the old millennium and into the new.

Flash mob

'Got a few minutes and a silly streak? Check your e-mail: A flash mob is forming near you.'

By Beth Gillin

Inquirer Staff Writer

AP photo

Flash mob in action: About 200 people gathered at a shop in Cambridge, Mass., last Thursday. The stunt? Card shopping for a “friend” named Bill.

On a recent Thursday in New York's Central Park, about 200 people gathered across from the Museum of Natural History and started chirping, tweeting, crowing and muttering "bird call, bird call."

After a few minutes of organized cacophony, the group of strangers dispersed, having successfully brought off a "flash mob," summer's wackiest craze.

Also called "flocking" and "inexplicable mobbing," it's sweeping the globe as groups summoned by e-mail or cell phone perform Monty Pythonesque pranks lasting 10 minutes or less, then scatter to the winds.

Some say the fad is a reaction to the rules and regulations of a post-9/11 world, to the "grim, less-fun-than-Orwell routine of taking our shoes off and walking through scanners," said technology watcher and writer Howard Rheingold in an e-mail from Mill Valley, Calif.

Others recall that in the 1960s, radio storyteller Jean Shepherd once called for a "milling" of his listeners at a specified place and time. When police turned up to investigate why the crowd had congregated in front of a burned-out building, nobody could explain what they were doing there.

"Haven't you ever felt like doing, or even done, something fun and pointless just for kicks?" e-mailed the flash mob organizer known only as "~friend" who's putting together a Philadelphia mob for September through the e-mail address upennflashmob@yahoo.com. "It's harmless, fun, entertaining and just plain silly."

Clearly, many are in the mood for madness.

Since the craze took off in mid-June, thousands of mobbers have bewildered onlookers here and abroad.

Crowds have twirled on Market Street in San Francisco, linked arms in a train station in Zurich, and shouted "Yes" repeatedly into cell phones in Berlin.

In Dallas, dozens of people carrying red balloons showed up outside a movie house to shout "Marco" at dozens more carrying blue balloons, who yelled "Polo" in return.

Hundreds descended on the greeting-card section of a store on Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass., last Thursday, each pretending to search for a card for a friend named Bill.

Organized through Web groups and Internet sites including flocksmart.com, cheesebikini.com and mobproject.com, flash mobs are now happening daily. New York's sixth is scheduled for tonight in Times Square. London is expecting its first today.

In his book, Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution, published last year, Rheingold predicted a digitally driven world of "ad-hocracy," in which people would temporarily converge around information of mutual interest.

Power of the mob

Rheingold has written extensively about the way mobile communication can coordinate collective action. His e-mail noted that such organizing "helped bring down a regime (Joseph Estrada in the Philippines) and elect a President (Roh of Korea)."

But while some may see flash mobbing as a test of political organizing, Rheingold notes that in this case "the political uses actually preceded the frivolous applications."

"I think the popularity of the mobs draws from the fact that the organizers don't explicitly state their motivations, and everyone gets something different out of them," said photographer Mike Epstein, 24, of Brooklyn, who chronicles inexplicable mobs on his Web site, SatansLaundromat.com.

As Susan, a 21-year-old Manhattan mobber, cheerfully told online magazine Salon, "It's sort of like being at a protest, but without the politics."

Epstein was there for history's first recorded inexplicable mob on June 17, when more than 100 New Yorkers, claiming to be suburban members of a commune in need of a "love rug," gathered around a $10,000 Oriental in the carpet department of Macy's flagship store.

Magic carpet?

After commenting for 10 minutes on the rug's design, color and knots, the group turned heels and departed, to the befuddlement of the sales manager.

"There are elements of anticonsumerism, social-scene parody, performance art and sheer randomness, and each participant enjoys different aspects of the mobs," Epstein said.

The Macy's mobbing was actually the second attempt, the first flash mob having been foiled in May after a New York man known only as Bill e-mailed 50 friends and asked them to meet at a Manhattan boutique to do something goofy.

But word leaked, the shop owner freaked, cops were called, and the mob lost its nerve. (A would-be flash mob in Philadelphia Saturday also fizzled. People were supposed to bite into yellow bell peppers in front of Center City restaurant Morimoto at 5:45 p.m. Nobody did.)

To ensure surprise in future mobs, Bill formed the Manhattan Mob Project and incorporated elements of a scavenger hunt.

Now, after synchronizing their watches at a specified Web site, members of a flock gather at various bars or restaurants. Instructions specify they're to order and pay for something while awaiting the appearance of organizers with printed instructions.

Nobody knows in advance exactly what will happen.

On July 2, mobbers in the food court at Grand Central Station kept an eye out for organizers, who carried copies of the New York Review of Books for identification. As per instructions, a crowd of 200 went to the balcony of the Grand Hyatt Hotel next to the station, applauded loudly for 15 seconds, and left.

Another time, hundreds of mobbers pretending to be tourists from Maryland poured out of four nearby bars to swarm a shoe store in Soho.

By July 24, the craze had spread to Europe, as 300 people in Rome invaded a book and music store, asked bewildered sales clerks for nonexistent titles, applauded for 15 seconds, and exited.

Later this month, people wearing sunglasses at night in Chicago are expected to gather for the sole purpose of coughing in unison for one minute.

Next week in Austin, Texas, mobbers are invited to bring an umbrella to a location for a synchronized walk.

On Sunday in Sydney, Australia, folks have been invited to appear at a beach, remove their left shoes, put their left feet in the ocean, applaud, laugh and leave.

It's an urban phenomenon with no known purpose, and that's OK with Manhattan Mob Project photographer Epstein.

"For me, it's part of seeing the city as a living organism with unseen possibilities around every corner," he said. "You never know when you'll encounter something truly strange."



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What did other people think of this?  I really think it is a riot (pardon the pun)!  And, again, I can't help but see the Roedecker character instigating something like this.  Sort his way of expressing and lashing out against Millennial dread and seriousness!


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I work in center city Philadelphia -- funny that the report was from the Phila Inquirer.  I just heard of the phenom yesterday before going to work on Good Morning America on ABC.   The setting was NY.  I have yet to see any outbreak of this in Philly.

My opinion?  Well...I think it is simple frivolity demonstrated by the 16 - 22 year old group that worship cell phones -- and more importantly are slaves to the cell phone bill.

...said in a deep woods Kentucky accent: I AINT FER IT!

Sorry, I'm just not that cool.  I have to wait for my DVD-r to see the reference, but I will be on the look-out for the parallel.


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