Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Rome: Flash Mob 2

20 minutes ago three sharp whistle blows signalled the end of Rome Flash Mob 2.

As you can guess, I was there. ;-)

I wanted to learn something and understand what is the purpose and meaning for me of this "staging".

I have made a few sharp realizations.



Many smiles. People enjoyed themselves. They placed passion and irony in what they did up to the last minute.

I did not know ONE person there. I liked that.

The flashmob was set around a series of "gags" to be role played in the center of large crossing in the historical center of Rome. Just in front of the cathedral of S. Maria Maggiore.

Two groups were facing each other at the two opposite sides of the sidewalk, and in sync they carried out a number of pre-ordinate street crossings that caused quite a stir in the whole traffic around the area. During the crossing people were first to hug and loudly say hello to each other in a very fraternal way, in the second and third people had to bumb into each other and start apparent skirmisches and verbal fights just as many Italians do when pissed off in the traffic.

The coordinated crossing gags ended up with a loud call-out from one side to the other and with synchronized responsed. "Chee orraaaa eeeee????" and from the other side "Leeee settteeeee e quarantaaaaaaa".

The closing demonstrative action was a rugby game with everyone against everyone else in front of the cathedral. Four minutes of intense running and catching a toilet paper roll.

The the three sharp whistles.

In a matter of seconds nobody was there anymore. Not a word, not a bye. Just natural, swift, as I had not seen before.

But then the scene that made the whole happening worth a million heartbeats had yet to come.

Relaxed, I was walking back to my motorbike and just about to cross the street again where we had engaged our mob in the many crossings just 10 minutes before.

The light was red. So I was standing and looking.

A police car arrived by with the cop driving it looking actively at the center of the square to see "something". His eyes expressed it so clearly: "Hey, here there is nobody! What the hell is going on here?". He could not believe himself.

Probably they have had some calls from mobiles of people who had gotten quite pissed off during the crossing exercise but now that they were there there was nothing in sight.

What a scene.

I turned myself to the left only to see a young guy like me smiling back at me. As if we knew each other for a long time. While the police car was very slowly moving around the corner were we wer standing I said outright: "Hey did you see that face? This was worth the whole entire Flashmob!".

He smiled and said "Yes". I have no words to describe that sensation when the policeman face blanked out but it was exhilarating.

Around issues and causes worth thier value people are willing to snap out of TV reality and to have fun and rejoyce themselves at a snap.

The Flasmob is a training. Is a preparation.
This is not done consciously by those who organize but it is consciously programmed into what we are about to do.

Individuals are willing to act on a common scope at simple signal. Swiftly, rapidly in an apparent disorganized way, but with presence and precision in the moment of action.

Not being there, and then being ALL there "all of a sudden" was another exercise in timing and loose dispersed and autonomous coordination.

A lite exercise but I had never seen a group of strangers get together so well.

Do we have other uses for this?

Readers' Comments    
2003-10-07 23:37:17

A Alexander Stella

First off, this is hardly random spam.
Okay, here's what I did to obtain your e-mail address. First, I pulled up the Advanced Search option of the Google search engine. Then, I entered "flash mob" in the "with all the words" field. After choosing "20 results", I then clicked on "Google search". Before I sent anybody this courriel, I examined each website to ascertain whether there was an invitation of any sort. By invitation, I mean phrases such as "I welcome comments" and other like remarks.
In a sense, you passed the test. And that is why you've received this missive. In the event you received one previously, this one comes with new information.
For the sake of quick review, a 28-year-old female aide was found dead in the congressional district office of former Representative Joe Scarborough, currently an MSNBC luminary. The official inquiry into death of the aide, a Mrs Lori Klausutis, left some details open to further investigation. In the earlier note, I mentioned that those details nag at me, A Alexander Stella.
What's more, I'm far from being the only one. There are dozens of websites that are devoting space to this curious happenstance.
So, for the sake of justice for Lori Klausutis, I'm asking recipients such as yourself to consider employing the phenomenon of flash mobs. If you would like like more details, you're certainly invited to click on the following hyperlink:
flash mob for Lori
thanking you in advance for your time in reading this appeal,
warm regards
A Alexander "Bogey" Stella
Oh, swell, likely enough, you'll have to click on my name, ah, the one by the date. And, if that fails, try inserting in the address field of your browser the following U.R.L, namely,

2003-08-01 10:13:34

Robin Good

Thanks Marianne for your very right and sensitive comments. I much agree with what you say and have felt the need to edit and moderate my ideas in the above post.

I am not suggesting any kind of subversive behaviour though. I am only suggesting to consider that if we wanted we need not just party down indefinitely.

At one point one of us may well choose to build a small bridge, to clean-up a street slum in 10 minute, or to do erect a colorful art piece where you would least expect it.

I agree, I should let it flower wherever it needs to go.

Thank you Marianne for your wise critique.


2003-08-01 09:58:18


Robin, potentially this is the kind of collective behavior that triggers the control-freaks' paranoia.

So, just for the taste of keeping flash mobs fresh, unpredictable and working, I'd just leave any conceptualisation away from my conscious mind. Because, also, others have already pondered and written about it. Just have a look at the comments that have popped up about Flash Mob 1, in particular on Golem Blog (in Italian )

At a higher conceptual level, Flash mobs are associated in my mind with Temporary Autonomous Zones (TAZ, Hakim Bey, ) Among all possible senses and uses of the Flash Mob, for me it is and had better remain a celebration of the right to party.

Having no purpose, being unclassifiable (btw, this is the worst that can happen to an information architect ;-) is subversive of the order in itself. You've already put it so well:
"Not being there, and then being ALL there "all of a sudden" was another exercise in timing and loose dispersed and autonomous coordination.

A lite exercise but I had never seen a group of strangers get together so well."

If use need be, let it emerge and change and be unpredictable.

posted by Robin Good on Thursday, July 31 2003, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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