Monday, March 29, 2010

From Rave to Flash

I remember back in the 90's people talking about "rave parties". It was a spontaneous party where a location would be selected and rapid calling would produce an instant party. A great example of the scalability of networks and their "nodes" and "connections".

This week the new term "flash mob" is making the news. Utilizing our latest and greatest technology, kids are using the same instantaeous approach to gather a group, but this time, the goal is unrulliness and mayhem. Philadelphia, The City of Brotherly Love, seems to be the emergent "flash" city. Kind of ironic isn't it? It gets better. The mayor's last name is Nutter!

"City officials took to the street Saturday night to combat the social networking phenomenon flash mobs, which are causing increasing concerns in the city. Mayor Michael Nutter, District Attorney Seth Williams and other elected officials strolled South Street at dusk Saturday night, spreading a zero tolerance message. 'Come out, have a ball, behave like you have some sense,' Nutter said. The Philly Family Fun Tour came a week after South Street was overrun by hundreds of teens, resulting in reports of beatings and vandalism, a handful of arrests, and early closing of some stores. It was the third flash mob since February. Officials hope recent flash mob-related arrests will prevent people from participating in the future. 'Hopefully, the fact that 29 have received felony convictions will deter others from receiving texts and showing up, damaging property and hurting people,' Williams said"
Source: NBC

"In 2003, a group of people gathered at the Toys ‘R Us in Times Square and jointly stared at a giant electronic toy Tyrannosaurus Rex, then dropped to the floor and started screaming. Rob Walker, in an Aug. 4, 2003 article in The New York Times Magazine, called the incident part of “a fad.” But Mr. Walker also noted it was a “fad worth paying attention to.” His take on the “flash mobs,” that it was all in fun, was prevalent for about seven years. As he described it, it was an assembly of the “well-wired folks who gather suddenly, perform some specific but innocuous act, then promptly scatter.” In 2003, “well-wired” pretty much meant cell phones, pagers and Web sites. Today, we are much more connected and faster at sending information — or rally cries. Twitter, Facebook, foursquare and text messaging allow for anyone to send messages to everyone in minutes. And, in turn, the scene has become less benign and “innocuous.” A front-page article in The New York Times on March 24 by Ian Urbina on flash mobs in Philadelphia noted that these days the gatherings “have taken on a more aggressive and raucous turn.” And now the trend has spread to the suburbs — specifically, our suburbs. By all appearances, the incident on Saturday, March 20, where perhaps as many as 500 young people suddenly gathered on the streets of South Orange, was part of this new phenomenon of flash mobs gone wild. The event was noted in Mr. Urbina’s article, which also mentioned a similar fiasco in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, on Nov. 3, when mobs and violence marked the technology-generated gathering of thousands of young people in Brooklyn for a wings special at a restaurant chain (the chain was the victim, not the perpetrator)."
Source: NY Times blog

This generation of kids are starting to organize. First it was the college campuses, now just random chaos. Mass social mood engulfs all ages.

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