The flash mob finds its apotheosis.
When Bill Wasik came up with the idea of the flash mob back in 2003, the thing was a social experiment in the purest sense. The first event -- held at Macy's in New York City's Herald Square -- simply asked participants to meet up at bars in the vicinity of the department store, where they were given instructions about what to do during the mob itself. (In this case, the instructions were to congregate around a rug in the 9th-floor furniture department.) The gather-then-do-something-then-disperse event, and those that would follow it, weren't necessarily meant to be social commentaries; they weren't necessarily meant to be political gestures. They were simply meant to be a test -- and, later, a demonstration -- of the connective power of the Internet. Wasik wanted to see whether people themselves could go viral.
"The idea of flash mobs as being absurd and being ten minutes or less," Wasik later explained, "sort of means that they are not very great vehicles for expression." Instead, flash mobs themselves were "a demonstration of what the technology of Internet chain emails could do and text messaging can do and a demonstration of social networks," he said -- the movement that builds as "one person forwards it to ten people and they forward it to 10 people and before you know it you can gather really tremendous crowds."