Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Flash mob futures

Rush hour Phnom Penh 1
Back in November I wrote a critique of Rheingold’s flash mobs and the whole idea of direct action mediated by new technology. I argued that it is hard to see how impromptu i-pod parties at Paddington Station or smart mob swarms in sofa shops fit into this vision. I suggested that they might constitute performance art or collective play, and certainly heralded a new kind of social participation, but weren’t so likely to transform society in any radical way. The French activist movement L’Appel et Le Pioche has just proved me wrong. You can read about spontaneous picnic parties in supermarkets here (their French blog) and the English press commentary here. Sounds great, but are things about change?

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