Sunday, January 28, 2007

Smart Mobs....

You know, I've always hated mobs. I don't know why.

Recently, cell phones featured in a school fight in Wisconsin:

MILWAUKEE - School brawls have gone high tech, with students using cell phones to call in reinforcements - in one case requiring police and pepper spray to break up a fight that swelled to about 20 family members on Milwaukee school grounds.

Handy's are great mobilizers of mobs. A call here, a group text message there. Meetups can be arranged by social networks like myspace, blogs and chat groups.

The only thing smart, here, is the technology employed. At the end of the day, you've still got a dumb mob. And mobs are ruled by he who yells the loudest.

There's a certain anonymity in mobs. This is not a dig on anonymity, by the way. I'm not irony challenged. But the anonymity afforded by the mob almost always, without exception, leads to bad outcomes. Rarely are great inventions, good books and art developed in a mob.

Mob are designed, almost genetically, to break and smash stuff.

Count the number of one man riots, where a lone mobster smashes a McDonald's window or makes off with a TV.

So, I'm always going back to a Digital Moses, of sorts. He's the guy who gets us to the promised land, and as the tribe is about to cross in, says, "Whoa. Hold up, folks."

I am, of course, referring to Jaron Lanier.

He's one of those voices in the wilderness (cheerfully mixing metaphores, here) I like to listen too. The other county heard from.

His piece, Digital Maoism points out some of the dust bunnies in the living room of Our Shinny New World.

We're trending to a world that is, at least in part, more open, in both society and source.

Me, I like sketching out where that goes bad. Can't all be upside.

At some point, that mob we develop is going to turn around and bite us in the ass.

While "no man is an Island, entire unto himself", all men don't need to become the continent. You'll always need somewhere to run. So, we'll always need islands.

Got to go.

Rome is on.

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