how to:How to Organize a Flash Mob
A flash mob is a group of people who mobilize on short notice to perform a collective action. Howard Rheingold, in his 2002 book, dubbed them"smart mobs," noting that they "consist of people who are able to act in concert even if they don’t know each other. The people who make up smart mobs cooperate in ways never before possible because they carry devices that possess both communication and computing capabilities. Their mobile devices connect them with other information devices in the environment as well as with other people’s telephones."
Smart mobs of activists, brought to demonstrations by text messages, have led to political change in the Phillipines and Ukraine; in repressive environments a flash mob is often a powerful act, no matter how banal the action may seem.
Disclaimer: Be aware of local laws and regulations regarding large gatherings. A smart mob could be illegal in certain instances.
Determine your overall goal. Do you want to raise awareness about a social issue? Protest a political decision? Organize an art performance? Clarify what you want to achieve. Sometimes just by showing that you are organized enough to gather people in one place to perform a defined action you are making a statement, and that could be a sufficient goal.
Figure out the specific act that will help achieve your goal. The key is that everyone participates together at the same exact moment. You can physically gather at a set location or simultaneously perform the same act from different places.
Examples: MoveOn jammed congressional phone lines with a massive call-in. In Argentina, people gathered for a pillow fight. A smart mob does not have to be political.
Make sure you’re prepared: Scope out your location, get contact information for the people you plan to invite, and set up a group list on your phone so you can text everyone by hitting just one button.
You can also organize a smart mob through a social networking or microblogging site. There are even websites dedicated to creating and maintaining group lists.
Social networks are great for organizing, but not if someone is spying on you :( Be secure.
Set the date and time for the smart mob, and roughly calculate how long it will take for participants to reach the location. You may want to alert people to the date ahead of time but keep all other information secret.
Smart mobs can be especially effective in places that discourage free assembly. By the time anyone who would want to stop you finds out, your group has already gathered.
Set up a bulk SMS messaging platform. Similar to electronic mailing lists, buik SMS messaging platforms allow you to send a text message to a large group of people at once. These services also reduce the amount of time individuals have to spend sending messages to people in their networks.
TXTMob was first used by protesters at the U.S. Republican and Democratic National Conventions in 2004 to organize rallies, send warnings, and direct volunteer medics.
With bulk messaging services, users typically must opt-in to the service and verify ownership of their mobile phones. The fact that people interested in participating in a demonstration or protest must first sign up for the service may be a barrier that prevents them from using it.
The key to a smart mob lies in its lightning-fast execution and mass distribution. Don’t write a dissertation—text messages are generally limited to 160 characters—and encourage people to forward the message along.
Smart mobs usually lack a central power controlling the movements and actions of participants. While an organization or group may originate the original messages that call for a demonstration or protest to take place, such a group usually loses control of the mob once messages are sent beyond the first network of recipients and many more people become involved. Don't be surprised if you lose "power" over participants.
If you want to publicize your smart mob’s actions, contact the media just before the smart mob swarms and don’t include many details to keep an element of surprise. If you photograph or videotape the event, you can also publicize it after the fact.
Hit send! Now head to your smart mob location.
Including some variation of the phrase "Please forward!" in your SMS can encourage recipients to forward the message to their contacts.
Perform the collective action. Disperse calmly and quietly.
Did you know? In 2001, Filipinos responded to forwarded text messages by gathering in a plaza in Manila. The demonstration helped bring down the corrupt administration of President Joseph Estrada.