Yahoo! Silences Boston Flash Mob?

August 18th, 2003

A group of flash mob organizers in Boston reports that Yahoo! Groups suddenly and unexpectedly removed the Bostoncitymob Web site, where Boston flash mobbers were organizing. Along with the site, the organizers lost a list of more than 1,000 people who signed up to receive announcements about the next Boston flash mob. They lost their Yahoo! e-mail account as well.

The group posted a new Yahoo! Group here, but perhaps flash mob organizers should consider using services other than Yahoo! to host their Web sites from now on. At the least, keep a backup copy of any Yahoo-hosted mailing lists that you own, in case they disappear.

Slash Mobbing, Flesh Mobbing, Flash Mugging

August 15th, 2003

Rich at reports on the biggest flash mob yet. And you wondered what caused those blackouts.

Meanwhile, anonymous organizers in Austin, Texas are preparing for the world’s first Slash Mob:

The Slash Mob Project is an interesting phenomenon where people gather at a determined point, kill all surrounding onlookers, and then disperse as fast as arriving, thus leaving the onlookers dazed, bewildered, and hopefully dead by what they just experienced…

Join the group to find out what great ideas pop up around Austin, to show off your new fannypack, and to kill people.

Dark flash mob humor isn’t limited to Texas; someone in the U.K. coined the term Flash Mugging.

In Montreal, “AndrÈ” is trying to create a FLESH Mob:

All must bring a back pack to recognize themselves and gather so as to become a small compact crowd…

At a specific hour, all the participants will strip and collect their clothing in their back pack. Some can only wear a g-string…

All the participants will have to dress and disperse before that becomes an illegal demonstration.

(I’m sure Spencer Tunick would appreciate that.)

This week, flash mobs took place in Brazil and in South Africa. If a flash mob goes down in Melbourne, Australia next week as planned, Antarctica will be the only continent yet to be flash mobbed.

Mermaid Wave

August 11th, 2003
Mermaid Wave - click for full painting (71K)

Here’s a detail from Mermaid Wave, a new revelation from my old high school friend David Bollt.

Please enjoy a photo (71K) of the full painting. You’ll find more of Bollt’s best at, including the dark and compelling American Spirit series.

Antimobs, Mob Hacking, and More Evolution

August 8th, 2003
London flash mob photo - courtesy of

Last night a flash mob finally went down in London. It almost was a disaster because the owner of the targeted sofa store closed up early to hit the pub, but he headed back and opened up the doors to let the flash mob in. Thanks to for the photo above; here are more photos.

Photos and accounts of last night’s New York flash mob have been posted at the usual places:, and Apparently the flash mob scheduled for last night in Toronto was cancelled due to “overwhelming media coverage and police presence.”

Last night’s New York and Toronto flash mobs both targeted outlets of the same giant multinational toy store chain. That’s an ugly coincidence.

New York flash mob #6 photo - courtesy of moistandtasty.comOrganizers: consider steering clear of the large corporate retail stores; these places get enough business as it is. Participants: remember that a corporation could easily create fake flash mobs designed to spur more business to its retail outlets. Don’t be a sheep! Consider the consequences before following any flash mob instructions. Avoid purchases during, after, or on the way to a flash mob.

Meanwhile in Germany, folks are still going absolutely nuts over flash mobs. Over at there are flash mob groups assigned to dozens and dozens of German cities and towns, and people are joking about a fictional flash mob in Iraq.

Still, no mob organizers have taken this to the next level. The sarcastic creativity behind the Antimob Project might spark some ideas:

While the Mob Project seeks to materialize a mob of people at a place for a brief period of time, the Antimob Project seeks to create the opposite effect. In a given 10 minute period with the participation of everyone in the world, we will create a ghost town atmosphere in a famous public space… If we can get everyone in the world to participate in our non events, we can produce some dramatic results.

“Tom” seems more organized in his flash mob backlash; he wants to hack the events. Who knows what he’s cooking up at, but it smells good from here.

The folks at are working to build what sounds like a group of open-source community-based Web tools designed to power evolving flash mobs. They’ve opened the flashmob-dev mailing list to serve as a discussion forum for people developing flash mob related applications.

Micah at looks forward to using flash mobs for political purposes, and she has written up some thoughtful strategies for doing so.

San Franciscans: remember the next local flash mob is scheduled to take place tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon. Details here. Let’s hope the organizers have put together something new.

It Takes a Village

August 6th, 2003

“It takes a village to raise a village idiot.”

– Cooper Wiseman

Flash Mobs and The New York Times

August 4th, 2003

The first flash mobs took place nearly two months ago in New York — yet the first New York Times flash mob coverage appeared today, in the “Berlin Journal” portion of the International section. What were they thinking?

Anyway, the piece contains one of my favorite flash mob quotes:

Tobias von Sch–nebeck, a tour guide, shook his head when he heard about how the phenomenon was traced back to Macy’s. “This is just the sort of thing that happens when you forbid New York to smoke.”