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.

45 Responses to “Antimobs, Mob Hacking, and More Evolution”

  1. comment number 1 by: Lauren

    There’s something lovely about living in the future.

    My friend attended the first London Mob last night and emailed me pictures from his phone to mine.

    I, about 5 hours later, was able to do the same to him.

  2. comment number 2 by: Anonymous

    is there one planned in the panhandle of florida? i read about this in the paper yesterday and would like to participate in one!!!!!!

  3. comment number 3 by: The Other Jane

    The backlash seems, typically, a combination of primarily ignorance (those backlashing typically have not tried flash mobbing) and occasionally bitterness (from people who a)are jealous of the successful organizers or b)feel left out because they weren’t early adopters). While I agree that flash mob organizers should strive to make every flash mob a new idea, I don’t think we need to “take it to the next level.” I don’t think it needs to “evolve” to pursue political ends or “accomplish” anything other than the happiness and fun it provides its participants and its witnesses. For goodness’ sake, there is scant enough opportunity in society today to show up in a public space, meet 100 new people, share an interesting experience, have fun, and transfer our digital networks into our everday environments. I understand if someone doesn’t want to participate, but stop raining on everyone else’s parade. Let us play.

  4. comment number 4 by: Yume

    Anyone interested in organising the first flash mob in South Africa???after last night’s news coverage on the Toys ‘R’ Us mobbing, i’m hoping South Africans might be interested in a flash mob of our own.

  5. comment number 5 by: JJFlash

    Apparently, they *did* something in Toronto 🙂

    As for the flashhack blog… I really can’t understand all this anger about flash mobs, particularly this “sheep” thing.

    I just can’t figure it out: I still have to see an organizer that claims him/herself to be some kind of a boss or something like that. “Bill” doesn’t claim any “copyright” on the flashmob idea, for instance.

    It’s not *orders* that get sent out by e-mail, it’s *invitations*. People are *invited* to join, not *requested* to.

    Participants do not necessarily follow orders blindly: when I printed the slips of paper with the instructions for the second mob here in Rome, I didn’t make myself clear enough, so people ended up doing things that I didn’t plan, and when I tried to “correct” them, *no one* listened to me, because they were having fun *their way*, and I’m pretty happy with that.

    According to the reasoning of these anti-flashmobbers, I could say that all the people who go to a party are all sheep. I throw a party, I decide where to do it, which day to do it, what time to do it and I could even dictate the dress code, and people do just that: they show up where I want, on that day, at that time, dressed like I wanted, and they also eat and drink what I decide to put on the table. They even listen to the music I choose to play.

    So, how does it work? If it’s called “party”, all is fine, if it’s called “flash mob”, we’re all sheep?

    I don’t see any major difference between parties and flash mobs. If any of you out there can clarify, please do, I’m all ears…

  6. comment number 6 by: kevin

    This is a novel way of getting people together for a spot of harmless fun. I’m looking for FLASHMOBBERS in London. IF interested email me and will get back to you with details and timings etc.Let’s do it folks!

  7. comment number 7 by: David Drysdale

    A flash crowd event will take place at the Tesco store in the Kingston Centre, Milton Keynes on Monday the

    18th of August, 2003.

    At 4.00pm you will find a man dressed in a BLUE “LA” CAP sitting on a bench directly infront

    of Tescos. Approach him and ask for more instructions. The information you recieve must be strictly kept confidential.

    The information you recieve will also tell you what is going to occur and how it should be performed.

    The instructions will provide what is to happen in this flash crowd event. Once the flash event

    has occurred, all participants must disperse as if nothing has happened. This will signify

    the end of the flash mobbing event.

    Any queries please contact

  8. comment number 8 by:

    (David Drysdale’s event will happen in –England– in case you don’t know where “Milton Keynes” is…)

  9. comment number 9 by: glowlab news

    Fun in public, sans-Mob

    While it was good for a laugh, as an experiment the Flash Mob seems to be finished. A mob can’t appear “inexplicably” while simultaneously courting the media. It’s the secret everyone knows. As for using the mob in a constructive

  10. comment number 10 by: elmozo

    how old will you have to be to join in an event?

  11. comment number 11 by: LilOLme

    Do you do Hawaii too? Drop me a note if you do…

  12. comment number 12 by: fuckin shit

    jesus, you people need jobs. you’re not fighting any evil corporations here with your flooding of certain venues. you are all nothing but a number – the sooner you realize that, the sooner your life will become easier and more like a free spirit and full of love and happiness and weed and fuckin shit.

  13. comment number 13 by: larry


  14. comment number 14 by: Linny

    hey hey hey – Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    here. I’m interested in starting/

    joining a flash mob myself!

  15. comment number 15 by: Bryan

    Do you know of any organization in Miami, FL?

    I’d like to attend a “flash mob”…

  16. comment number 16 by: Jessie

    All this mob stuff is cool I guess, kinda retarded though. Theres too much to organize and stuff. but hey, if u have that much time to spend, go for it i guess. psht, have fun kids

  17. comment number 17 by: penny

    From what i have read, this seems like a fun thing to do, joining others, meeting people, taking a moment out of your day to just be spontaneous and do something different…..but, to poor people this must cause alot of bitterness and hard feelings. I mean, to people who are working to support their families, or to the people living on the streets, or the traffic jams when people are trying to get to appointments or in a hurry, it just seems like a useless, pointless thing to do. I mean if you are struggling just to find food or shelter you have to wonder what the point is, or why aren’t they trying to push a cause with this mobbing. And what is going to happen when some try to abuse the mobs for their own purposes, like covering up killings, robberies, etc? Or what they are gonna do when the violence that usually follows such big crowds happens? Eventually security measures and investigations will occur and if crimes are present then that will be a whole issue in itself and america will waste more money that should go to helpful organisations will be spent on this crap.!! So have fun and don’t share any of the responsibility of the consequences when bad things occur…

  18. comment number 18 by: Anonymous

    Sean’s listening to: who gives a shit ?

    He recently finished:mastrabating

  19. comment number 19 by: Eddie Nygma

    Hey, can we get some flashmobbers in Riverside? Send me an e-mail with the topic line [flashmobbers]

  20. comment number 20 by: outARK

    Evolution?: Global FM – Let’s jump to the next level!

    From Germany, we are trying to organize the FIRST GLOBAL FLASH MOB of the world. Basically, the flashmobbers will meet on Saturday 06.09.2003 in a big railway station in their city, get a telephone call at exactly 14:00 GMT (15:00 CET, your local time, sorry, Seattle, for you it takes place at 6:00 AM), let the celular ring for about 2 minutes, go out of the station in little ring-clusters, gather together in front of the door and dissapear. And this in so many cities around the world as we can get. That means that at the same time thousands of cellulars would ring all around the world. New also is the idea to have a “support person” in the background (the one who calls), to obtain a new quality in the flash mob: the interaction between 2 coupled mobs, a physical and a virtual one, and this cloned several times.

    At present all informations are in german language. If you can speak german you could help to materialise the idea translating and divulging it. As you can see my english is not the best 😉

    I’m already translating it in spanish and trying to disperse the meme in spanish speaking forums and newsgroups (most of the hispanic world has no idea of FM)


  21. comment number 21 by: Upenn

    Sign up for Philly flash mob to come September 5th by e-mailing

  22. comment number 22 by: cormac

    Fucking nerds.

  23. comment number 23 by: Satan's Laundromat

    MOB #6

    Oh, how I hoped Mob #6 would be in Times Square proper, out in the open, with tourists gaping at us from all sides. (When, Bill, when?) Instead, it was in Toys R Us, and it was a cute idea,…

  24. comment number 24 by: Angela

    I would love to get in on a ‘Flash Mob’ here in Louisville, KY

  25. comment number 25 by: hasanmahmoodi


    iam adam

  26. comment number 26 by: Jinx

    Do any of you glamourbomb too????

  27. comment number 27 by: Ed

    I don’t think there’s been a flash mob in LA yet. I have a great idea for one. Anyone interested?

  28. comment number 28 by: KaLLiFFa

    Flash Mobs are seemingly unplanned gatherings of large groups of people that converge in public (or semipublic) places for brief periods of time

  29. comment number 29 by: The Dublin Mob


    Just informing you lot that we had the first Dublin Flash Mob in Ireland on Saturday 09-08-2003 at 5.05 pm in a shoeshop on OConnell St in Dublin city. We pre arranged to meet in various pubs around Dublin to be in the shoeshop at 5.05pm where we browsed until 5.07pm and then we roared ” we like cheese” before leaving and there was no one left in the shop after 5.09pm. For info etc check the website

    The Dublin Mob

  30. comment number 30 by: larue55

    Before Flashmobs become the “streakers’ of 2003, I just want to remind you how potentially powerful and dangerous they can be. Any social organizing method that relies on sophisicated (and often balky) technology is subject to tech failures, infiltration by the powers that be, and PSYOPS/disruption by the authorities. Here in the national security state, better known as the USA, our spooks can read your license plate from a satellite, and open your mail if it contains trigger words, so don’t be naive if you think we’re flying under the radar here.

    Encryption, redundancy, careful planning, and a good political/social cause should be prerequisites for such activity, not cowering before a mechanical dinosaur at ToysRUs!

  31. comment number 31 by: Lauren

    Hey Larue55, I found it unendingly amusing that you’ve got the comic-book globalfrequency domain-mail-server. Warren Ellis himself participated in and talked up the London Mob, y’know?

  32. comment number 32 by: Few words, many thoughts.

    Phenomenoms of online connected communities

    I found two interesting phenomena on the blog of Anil Dash. They are both the effect of large numbers, the whole being more than just sum of its constituants. Flash mobs, I would love to see one! More detailed info…

  33. comment number 33 by: Bylco

    Hello… shouldn’t we at some point do a world synchronised flash mob… people coming together in various major cities around the world at the same time to perform a futile, funny act?

    What do you think?

  34. comment number 34 by: Elizabeth

    are there any flash mob things going on in Portland, Oregon? I *must* know. Someone pacify my curiousity.

  35. comment number 35 by: HKmobster

    Hong KOng’s first flash! August 22nd? details here :

  36. comment number 36 by: Jennifer

    the 1st Flash Mob happened in Brazil!!! click here or here to see the news (in Portuguese)

  37. comment number 37 by: Rob

    Hey all,

    I’m working on setting up a ‘Flash Ring’, a series of mobs moving sequentially from timezone to timezone. My cohorts and I are trying to use it to promote turning off your TV and reading instead.

    All the info’s up at my forums at

    We’d love to have more folks help us make this work!

  38. comment number 38 by: Louis

    This is a really cool. In Brazil starts now the flashmobs.

  39. comment number 39 by: john

    regarding comments on safety/corruption of flashmobs for evil purposes – flashmugging – I know it’s not exactly flashmob friendly, but it made me chuckle

  40. comment number 40 by: Fort Blog

    Flash Mobs come to Colorado

    There was a flash mob on the 16th street mall in Denver yesterday. You can see coverage of the 10 minute long event at the following locations: Denver Post story 9 News Story Denver Channel (channel 7) Story If you…

  41. comment number 41 by: The World Around

    Smart Mobs, Warchalking and the reuse of space

    I’ve had some interesting thoughts about how Warchalking

  42. comment number 42 by: Martin Sewell

    A blog is a frequent, chronological publication of personal thoughts and Web links.

    A flash mob is a large group of people who gather in a usually predetermined location, perform some brief action, and then quickly disperse.

    Flash blogging is the new black.

    If you wish to flash mob blogs, join the Blog Flash Mob.

  43. comment number 43 by: Brian

    Nashville pulls off the first “chainmob” or rolling flashmob. Three flashmobs, one after the other in three seperate but close locations.

    Details and video can be seen at


  44. comment number 44 by: Geoffrey Gonzalez

    Once in a while, you need to just follow the crowd. We seem to always go by the norm. This sounds like fun. I will look into setting up a Hispanicmob gathering across 18 countries.

  45. comment number 45 by: grainne


    when will the next flash mob be in london? i only recently found out about flash mobbing and it sounds like a laugh, so i’m interested.

    however, all information about it on the internet seems to be old.

    could anybody update me?

    thank you!