inexplicable rugburn
June 18, 2003 2:22 AM   Subscribe

The Love Rug. Most wired hipsters have heard of smart mobs by now. A group of social pranksters have embraced this idea, and set off a couple of "inexplicable smart mob" gatherings in Manhattan. This looks like a lot of fun to me. Or maybe I just need to get out more. Hmmm....
posted by majcher (13 comments total)
I prefer to roll "one deep". Call me a smart slob.
posted by sharksandwich at 5:34 AM on June 18, 2003

Though it's really nothing more than an elaborate in-joke, the effect must be rather stunning for everyone involved, especially the bewildered store clerk. I hope someone at least left him a "You have just been Flashmobbed." bumper sticker or something.

You might argue that it says a lot about my generation (everyone in the main link's picture looked about my age) that their idea of fun is to go stand somewhere for no reason. And that would be true. I'd probably still do it anyway, but the real power of smart mobs is their ability to effect social change; I'd be interested to see what this same group could accomplish with a political agenda.
posted by vraxoin at 6:05 AM on June 18, 2003

the image that I have in mind is a huge swarm ...zzz... moving fast from one thing to another: american idol ...zzz... madonna ...zzz... beckham ...zzz... wall street ...zzz... iraq ...zzz... football ...zzz... harry potter ...zzz... linux ...zzz... matrix ...zzz... mmm, beer ...zzz...

In real life you observe it when tickets are sold very fast. In the online world is called the /. effect and it is more traceable, and of course, it moves more faster.

...zzz... from time to time our swarm ...zzz... meets another one from a different culture ...zzz... but the meeting does not take to much time ...zzz... by now ...zzz... sometimes ideas are changed, maybe ...zzz...
posted by MzB at 6:13 AM on June 18, 2003

Imagine if the peace movement adopted techniques as slick as this for protest purposes. That'd be dope.
posted by DenOfSizer at 6:15 AM on June 18, 2003

Interesting, but vrax is correct, an in-joke when applied to something like a love rug.
There's a similar phenomenon that started in San Franciso, and spread to my hometown of Austin, where 'guerrilla' queers take over a straight bar for an evening. Here in Austin, we've floated quite a few kegs (Shoal Creek Saloon, Donn's Depot, La-la's), and made any number of bartenders write to us monthly asking when we'll be back. We suspect that we're pretty good tippers.
posted by TuffAustin at 6:34 AM on June 18, 2003

Imagine if the peace movement adopted techniques as slick as this for protest purposes. That'd be dope.

Actually, there was a lot of chatter in the media about just this thing during the opening salvos of the war. The SF protests, where traffic was blocked in by seemingly random roving bands of protestors was apparently orchestrated by a number of highly visible protest sites. Coordinators educated the protesting group on how to act and react around the police (i.e. acting violent would spin the protest badly in the press, and definitely get you a night in jail), as well as set up contact cell phone lines and delegations of authority.

If protests could have been organized across the country like this (i.e. temporarily and randomly disrupting the flow of governmental activity) over a period of time relevant to the war proceedings, I'd imagine the message would have been a louder one.

Imagine, if you will, the disruption a mass mob all trying to legitimately trying to enter the state capital building at once would do to morning arrivals. As soon as the police or the guard showed up to try and control the situation, you mass-mail the wireless devices (pagers, cells, PDAs) to disperse and move to point B, where the dance is repeated.
posted by thanotopsis at 7:07 AM on June 18, 2003

* shudders with excitement about what the next few years will bring as loosely-organized online groups find more ways to have impact in the offline world *
posted by VulcanMike at 7:24 AM on June 18, 2003

In high school a friend and now a fellow Mefite organized, or perhaps disorganized, "Book Day."
He put out the word that over a period of 2 weeks students in all four grades should checked out books from the under used school library. On a certain Wednesday, between lunch periods, everyone would return their books in a period of about 5 minutes. People checked out 3 or 4 books at a time at first, but less than one days into it the librarians started limiting the number anyone could check out to one.
As school administrators looked on disapprovingly on that named Wednesday, I'd guess that 200 people or more turned in their books.
Try as they might to find a way to get my friend in trouble they could find no evidence linking the (what we'd now describe as "viral") plot to him. I believe that when he was confronted by them he pointed out that even if they could, no one did anything against the rules.
The day of the turn-in was a nice culmination, but the 2 weeks of stressed out librarians and principals was the real art. An acquaintance was harshly admonished by a librarian for asking to check out an art history book.
A good time was had by all, and I can claim to have been part of an analog smart mob in 1990.
posted by putzface_dickman at 7:40 AM on June 18, 2003

Back when I was a teenager we used to party on Fiesta Island (San Diego, across from Sea World in the Bay). We'd get large numbers of folks there(sometimes well upwards of 1000, especially when a touring band was playing the Sports Arena), and when the law finally kicked us out we'd go to one of 2 other places. The law would follow within an hour or so, and we'd move on to site #3, then back to #1, lather rinse repeat. This sort of technology would've made us a helluva lot harder to keep track of-the law knew we'd be going to one of 2 destinations at any time so it was simple to recon them an hour after breaking up the party...
posted by ehintz at 7:47 AM on June 18, 2003

Must add "Smart Mob" to my list. Must also move list off Tripod, fix dead links and correct spelling of 'millennium'
posted by wendell at 11:57 AM on June 18, 2003

I am thinking, in particular, of whoever saw it necessary to tell the store and/or the police department about MOB #1, causing SIX POLICE OFFICERS AND A PADDYWAGON to be sent out to disrupt it. Let us call this person "Squealy."

It's a fair cop.
posted by squealy at 12:32 PM on June 18, 2003

"Try as they might to find a way to get my friend in trouble they could find no evidence linking the (what we'd now describe as "viral") plot to him. I believe that when he was confronted by them he pointed out that even if they could, no one did anything against the rules. " ...

My favorte, to-this-date exchange from that hour+ grilling :

Big redneck 'discipline officer': We know you have influence in this school...

Me: "well, some , sure, but.."

BRDO: (jumps up, points finger) "AH-HA!"
( i am not making this up, the guy said ah-ha)

me : hunh?

BRDO: You just admited you have influence!

me: "yeah, well, if the pope gets shot, and I say I have a gun, am i guilty?

BRDO: (silence)

I mean, there were three grown men in there, and they tried for an hour to get me to admit something...and finally I asked " well, what if someone did do this, what rule did they break?..

BRDO: get out of my office.

posted by das_2099 at 1:48 PM on June 18, 2003

One of my regrets. . . .

The year that Tonya Harding did the Olympics, I had this idea to start a rumor that she was returning through Eugene instead of Portland, in order to avoid the press.

I wanted to have a mob there, with signs saying "welcome back tonya," etc . and trick at least one TV news station into coming out to the airport and covering some random flight from somewhere, with us all waiting at the gate.

I shoulda done it. . ..

Woulda been hilarious. . . .no really.
posted by Danf at 2:53 PM on June 18, 2003

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