Smart Mob definition: When we think of a mob we often associate the term with chaos and disorder. Although mobs are traditionally spontaneous and disorganized, smart mobs are quite the contrary. Smart mobs are an organization of people through the use of social media to protest a social or political cause. This new form of mobbing is made possible by all of the new forms of media such as wireless devices, phones, twitter, peer to peer networks etc. Unlike flash mobs, social mobs often have a political motivation behind them. The new technologies allow Smart Mobs to operate carefully and quickly. Since the protestors are in constant contact through media they are able to communicate if the police are on their way to break up the protest. This allows them to converge for a quick protest but also enables them to disperse once the heat is on them. Another benefit of smart mobbing is that people can join or participate in a smart mob in the privacy of their own homes; many times members never even meet beforehand.
Coined the term Smart mob and also wrote the book Smart Mobs: The next social revolution. He was a futurist who began noticing the new ways technology was being used to form social protest. In 1999 Howard Rheingold started documenting the new ways people were using media to communicate with one another. He travelled all around the word to areas that adopted the technologies that allowed him to observe new trends such as the Philippines. The main thesis of the book is that technology has become democratized and this will lead to governments and cartels controlling access of the public use of these technologies. This concept was very innovative for this time because this concept was just begging to emerge. Rheingold’s theory was completely accurate because social mobs and use of media for political change has dramatically increased since the year 1999.
Examples of Smart Mobs:
A. The Battle of Seattle was one of the first examples of Smart Mobs. On November 30 1999 protestors lined the streets of Seattle to protest the WTO. The protestors were able to communicate with one another by using technological devises such as websites, cell phones laptops, radios, and other similar technologies. Protestors also used palm pilots to report updates on the riot. Apparently there was a point where the police were able to shut the communication down, but the protestors solved this problem by purchasing new Nextel’s phones
B. On July 5 2005, there was a smart mob protest in Poland during a U2 performance of the song New Years day. The mob was orchestrated through the internet and it consisted of 70,000 audience members waving clothing that were the colors of the Polish flag, half the fans waving white and the other half waves red.
C. The practice of Smart Mobs originated in places like Tokyo and Helsinki. This new concept began with teenage fanatics who organized smart mobs through text message to ambush their favorite celebrities. Rheingold went to Tokyo to note this new trend that was being started by these teenage “thumb tribes”. This new phenomena took place in places like Tokyo because they adopted the use of text messaging even before places like the US.
Has Technology become democratized?
Democratized technology refers to technology being more accessible to the public. Technology has become more democratized due to various advances such as source coding , net neutrality ,hacking etc. Inventions such as the printing press have opened the doors to this kind of change. The printing press and internet have made it much easier for the masses to communicate. The more we advance technologically the more access the public has to these forms of communication. Smart mobs are a prime example of how technology is democratized.
What measures will be taken to limit people’s access to technology?
Although some smart mobs are innocent and promote democracy, other forms of smart mobbing can be very dangerous. Smart mobs can lead to various problems like riots and terrorist attacks. It is still not determined whether smart mobbing has more of a positive or negative impact on our society. Rheingold believes that Governments and cartels will eventually take control over the technologies so that people will merely be consumers but lack the ability to create anymore. This would cause a lot of conflict because it violates rights that are protected under the first amendment. There haven’t been many legal verdicts on this matter because technology is constantly evolving and the law has not been able to catch up to it. Only time will tell how the government handles this new way of future known as smart mobbing
“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety” Benjamin Franklin