In 2002, Howard Rheingold published a book called Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution, in which he wrote about how groups of people can work intelligently together to connect with others and perform social coordination tasks. The concept Page 312 | Top of Articledrew from how technologies could enable people to communicate for a specific purpose, whether for fun, organizing, or mobilizing people to action.
Some people confuse flash mobs with smart mobs, and some use the terms synonymously. While they are related, there is a difference between the two concepts. Flash mobs are groups of people who appear in a physical place to do something unusual, to catch attention of the public and the media, or who make a political or social statement by their coordinated actions in that physical space. It could be said that flash mobs often occur for a cultural purpose. Sometimes flash mobs are created to make people stop and think about something else other than their typical day. Flash mobs often involve symphony orchestras, dances, art installations, and collective actions that appear spontaneous at first, but make people smile because of the unexpected nature of the event. The flash mob event appears to just happen, even though it is apparent that coordination was necessary to make the event become successful.
A smart mob is a group of people that organize and communicate efficiently to perform a task that tends to have more of a political motive. They often rely on social media and social networks to help spread the message and organize the activities related to that action. In almost any political action today, social media are used to spread information and coordinate activities. The Arab Spring and the Occupy Movements are examples of how smart mobs can function at a time of crisis and while people are under duress.
See also: Arab Spring ; Collective Intelligence ; Crowdfunding ; Crowdsourcing ; Occupy Movement
Rheingold, Howard. 2002. Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books.
Gale Document Number: GALE|CX6485200146