If anyone's planning on taking part in the flash mob pillow fight in Piccadilly Gardens tomorrow (all info here), you really should read this article first. It's a history of the flash mob phenomenon, written by the guy who invented the flash mob to study the trendmongering social practices of Williamsburg proto-hipsters. I first posted it way back in April. In fact, the article was published almost a year ago, but flash mobs still continue to work their way around the world, and most participants remain oblivious to their origins.
Here's the way Bill Wasik's tale begins:
On May 27, 2003, bored and therefore disposed toward acts of social-scientific inquiry, I sent an email to sixty-some friends and acquaintances. The message began:
You are invited to take part in MOB, the project that creates an inexplicable mob of people in New York City for ten minutes or less. Please forward this to other people you know who might like to join.
More precisely, I forwarded them this message, which, in order to conceal my identity as its original author, I had sent myself earlier that day from an anonymous webmail account. As further explanation, the email offered a “frequently asked questions” section, which consisted of only one question:
Q. Why would I want to join an inexplicable mob?
A. Tons of other people are doing it.
Have fun, kiddies.