Just when I thought I could stop writing about flash mobs, more strange news emerges.
For the record: it seems I wasn’t the first person to use the words “flash” and “mob” together. Apparently “flash mob” was a name used in the 1800s to describe an Australian subculture of female prisoners, based on the term “flash language” for the jargon these women used. For whatever it’s worth, the 1800s Australian term “flash mob” referred to a segment of society, not an event, and had no other similarities to the modern “flash mob” term.
Details at Boing Boing and at Derek Lackaff’s weblog. (Note that the postcard image at the top of these entries was created in 2004, not in the 1800s.) More about the 1800s “flash mob” subculture in Tasmania here.