Mobs just want to have fun.
Larry Niven published Flash
Crowd in 1972. In that novella, the ability to teletransport creates a
situation in which immense crowds of people choose to congregate anywhere something
interesting is happening. As is to be expected, this leads to previously unexpected
social problems. In today's world, for instance, we generally don't expect thousands
of people from different continents to almost simultaneously crash a party that
they've suddenly heard is a lively one, and we wouldn't know how to deal with
them if they did.
I suppose that what makes Niven's novella science fiction
is the fact that he wrote at a time when the technology necessary to create flash
crowds still wasn't available. Of course teleportation, if at all feasible, is
still far off in the future, but cellular phones for getting the word out make
those crowds possible. Could we have joined them before cellular phones? Who
thought up the idea, anyway? On Howard Rheingold's Smart Mobs site, as a comment
post that suggests that mobs without politics are much more attractive than
mobs with them, one person inquires into what she should do in order to learn
about a flash mob:
how do i start a flash mob? can i
start one? how do i contact all the people? i dont mean to make this complicated,
but id like to be in one, and we dont have anything going on in rockford, IL.
thanks!That question had me scratching my head a bit. Not
too long ago, word of mouth seemed to be a pretty effective method of getting
information to people. I can well remember hand-drawn posters stapled on to telephone
polls that succeeded in getting rather large groups of people to attend parties.
Cellulars, without a doubt, helped create the critical mass that made flash mobs
into a fad, but well before modern communications technologies, people who wanted
to attract a crowd seemed rather adept at finding ways of doing this.
Go to: Is
there a point?, or
Go to: Are crowds really