A few days ago, I checked my inbox and found the following e-mail had been forwarded to me by a friend:

You have been invited to join the.mob_stirs, Birmingham's first flash mob.

The movement has begun in New York, it’s spreading across other cities in the USA; now it will begin in the UK. Here’s what we’re about:

The internet provides us with the ability to connect a network of disparate individuals together and then mobilise them as one; moving in unison for a common cause. The ‘mob’ appears without warning and dissipates as swiftly as it arrived. A flash mob is a group who synchronise there movements and convene momentarily, to become a startling intervention in the life of a city.

We want to bring people together to have fun. We want to inject more quirkiness into people’s lives. We want to be altruistic.

There are mob groups beginning all over the world and an upcoming London mob.

Visit our web site at http://mobstirs.no-ip.org to learn more and join the smart mob collective.

If you still need to be convinced of the beauty of ‘flash mobs’, read the latest news about other mob events at the following sites. Check the content of the events to get a feel for the type of activism that has been occurring, there are more on the web site.

  1. recent BBC article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/3065685.stm
  2. general mob coverage, regular updates: http://www.cheesebikini.com/blog/archives/cat_flash_mobs.html
  3. web log with mob news: http://biroco.com/2003_07.htm#jul21
  4. web log for ‘Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution’ by Howard Rheingold: http://www.smartmobs.com/index.html
  5. resource for organizers: http://www.flocksmart.com/
  6. yahoo group for San Francisco mob: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/the_mob_project/
  7. article from WIRED magazine: http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,59518,00.html

Following in the footsteps of the groups acting in the USA, mob_stir events will be apolitical, respectful and brief. It only takes a few seconds to leave an impact. Instructions for the participation in the mob will be passed out by e-mail to all those who choose to join the collective. They will be based somewhere in Birmingham city centre. Once we have achieved a critical mass for a successful intervention, a date will be set and instructions to all members will be issued.

To join the collective reply to this address or visit http://mobstirs.no-ip.org and subscribe from there.

Please copy this e-mail to friends you think will be interested and help us make the.mob_stirs grow.




As ever, the e2 mega-brain came to my rescue as I discovered a flash mob node had already been mounted.

I’ve joined up. It looks like a lot of fun and the sublime power of networked communication, frankly, turns me on. Why do you think I mooch about at e2? We are the first flash mob – we appear from nowhere, create events to inspire new ideas and move on (even if it is only as far as ebay to exorcise our consumer demons). Thanks to the links on the node I’ve been able to follow the latest news about flash mobs over the last couple of weeks. It’s exploded. Every day, half a dozen new cities start a mob group. Here in the UK, there are groups in Sheffield, Manchester, London and Birmingham – the source of the e-mail I was sent.

Tonight the first London mob is due to take place. Around 500 people (according to the member count on their Yahoo group) will gather and disperse in the centre of London for no discernibly good reason. Instructions will be passed out to them when they arrive at prearranged bars, the 500 being split into manageable chunks by instructing them to arrive at a variety of bars dependent on their star sign. If all goes to plan they will then convene at a final destination to perform their task then swiftly melt into the background and go back to whatever they were doing.

It’s beautiful, it’s creative, it brings total strangers together to have fun and smile at each other; and it’s meaningless. It doesn’t require you to adopt the moral high ground, intellectualise the cultural significance or choose which side of the political fence to sit on. In time this will come; the flash mob will be adopted by campaigners and activists. All good ideas should evolve, but for now let’s just enjoy its cathartic emptiness. The Birmingham group are still taking members for their first event, they talk of the desire to be altruistic but there is no discussion of a specific cause. I hope they are interested in altruism for its own sake. I wonder if the people of Birmingham are prepared to give.

This was written as an attempt to expand on the discussion in the flash mob node (and deliver a positive view about their value), however I chose to submit it as a daylog in order to give all e2 Londoners a heads up for tonight. I’ll post a wu on the first Birmingham mob event when it occurs. Maybe I’ll see you there.

p.s – go easy on the downvotes, it’s my birthday today.