Sunday, September 14, 2003

Flash Mobs

Yesterday morning, at 10:35 AM, about a hundred and fifty people gathered around the base of the Seattle Space Needle, jumped up and down, shouting “The Doctor is In!”. The Seattle Times duly reported this in their Sunday edition on the front page. This proves:
• People in Seattle are even weirder than you thought.
• The Media will report anything at all to avoid facing real issues.
• Howard Dean has serious traction.
• Garry Trudeau has way too much power.

OK, this is tied into a recent strip in Doonesbury, in which Mike’s daughter forms a flash mob over the Internet with the above orders, then ends up worrying that by politicizing the flash mob, she defeats the purpose of the flash mob. In the Seattle Times write-up, this is pitched as the latest reportage of the silly season, of instant crowds of strangers. Its new hotness, and they claim to speak with the creator.

Except the creator should be Bruce Sterling. Back in 1998, he published a book called “Distraction”, which was political humor so dry and subtle that apparently no one got it. However, the book opens with the protagonist watching a group of supposed total strangers destroy a bank. Its not noted as a flash mob by name, but the basic approach was there. So much for the “new hotness”.

By the way, I had an alibi – I was at Tai Chi at the time.