07 September 2009

A flash mob is in its very essence rhizomatic. A leaderless mass event, dissolving as quickly as it appeared. A group of people suddenly gather in a public place performing an unusual, often funny act. The initiative is usually posted on the internet, and spread via mail and SMS. The starting point will be difficult to identify, and once it’s started you can not stop it. 500 people freeze in a trainstation for five minutes. Thousands of people gather to silent rave in Victoria, London. Pillow fights in the middle of the street. Ninja’s fighting on a campus or zombies roaming around in a mall. And recently Michael Jackson dance tributes all over the world....

This is considered an undergroup to smart mobs - a term introduced by Howard Rheingold in his book Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution. The self-organising structure allowes (the events) to claim to be celebrations or sudden, coincidential gatherings, rather than protests or organised demontrations, arguing to not need the required approvals form police or authority. Flash mobs may not be politically or idealogically founded - often just for fun - but they still represent a need to make an expression in public space. Similar more politically oriented movements like Critical Mass evolved throughout the ‘90s to reclaim the streets, and may be traced all the way back to the ‘70s.

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