Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Norwegian media have discovered flashmobs - sudden gatherings of people who perform meaningless stunts. flashmob.co.uk has a description of phenomenon and some information about when where and how to participate in the UK.

The article in Dagbladet.no discusses the potential political meaning of this, and how it can be used to reach political goals. That is a little late. Cellphone and email technology has already been used to gather demonstrators. At the beginning of the war in Iraq there were anti-war rallies like these stunts in several cities in the US. It's just an other communication technology and of course it can be used for rallies, demonstrations and what ever else. Before the last election in Norway, my daughter signed up on a SMS list where she got messages from the socialist party - SV - with comments on the most recent political discussions, targeted towards youths. She really enjoyed that, the sender was supposedly Kristin Halvorsen, leader of the socialist party, and it gave her a feeling of being part of the campaign before the election.

So somebody have discovered that sending text messages can make a lot of people show up at the same place at the same time and do the same thing. At the excursion to Oslo this spring, my students coordinated four days of visits and socialising through sms, sending out group messages about changes in the schedule etc. I signed on a list that let me know what goes on at a club in Oslo (yeah as if I need to know while I am in Volda...). Personally I think the fact that people do this just for fun, as a game, is a lot more interesting than if people do it with a purpose. I love this kind of corruption of otherwise utilitarian tools.

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