The Null Device

Flash Mobs

According to WIRED News, flash mobs are taking off, with flash mob groups popping up in San Francisco, Minneapolis and soon in London too. The groups organise over the Internet, pick an appointed time and place and then spontaneously gather, do something and dissipate.
Sean Savage, a 31-year-old San Francisco designer and weblogger who has followed flash mobs, said these kinds of semi-anarchic gatherings have roots that go at least as far back as the late 1970s. Savage said San Francisco groups like the Suicide Club and the Cacophony Society have been staging group pranks in the city for decades, while Santa Rampage has been an annual San Francisco tradition for nearly a decade and has spread to more than 15 cities worldwide.

Hmmm... I wonder whether this would transplant well to Melbourne. (Wasn't the "SPONTANEOUS CHOIR" graffiti one sees around from time to time connected to some similar phenomenon?)

There are 4 comments on "Flash Mobs":

Posted by: Graham Mon Jul 7 14:28:12 2003

Whither Critical Mass?

Posted by: acb Mon Jul 7 14:56:57 2003

They're expressly political; tied to Bicyclism (an ideology related to anarcho-veganism, and rooted in Adam Weishaupt's theories of historical cycles). Flash crowds are purely aesthetic, without being tied to any one oh-so-worthy cause.

Posted by: Stu Sun Apr 18 10:28:59 2004

Just to weigh into the debate almost a year later; I don't see why a flash-mob cannot be political. A flash-mob organiser quoted in Wired says, "I don't think there's a lot of sustainability to prankish mobs". As the final paragraph suggests, the next step is political. Critical Mass is a good example, although not perfect as it is a regular event. A perfect example appears in the first few pages of Bruce Sterling's 1999 novel, Distraction. Unfortunatly the introductory sample pages do not seem to be available at

Posted by: Stu Sun Apr 18 10:42:06 2004

Actually, the pages I wanted are provided as an excerpt at Barnes and Noble. Enjoy.