who? me? (stet) Fri 31 Jan 03 15:58
I scrolled back up looking for just that, and how'd I miss it?
Howard Rheingold (hlr) Tue 4 Feb 03 10:53
Hi Gail! I'm doing a "Media Salon" at the KQED studio, 7 PM next Monday, Feb 10. I will talk briefly -- 15-20 minutes -- and the rest of the evening will be devoted to group discussion. 2601 Mariposa St. at Bryant It runs until 9 PM
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 4 Feb 03 15:04
Sounds like a blast! Is that going to be webcast?
Howard Rheingold (hlr) Wed 5 Feb 03 11:12
I dunno. I don't think so.
Jeff Jones (jefdeham) Fri 14 Feb 03 12:10
There is an article in the SFGATE today on how protests are being organized quickly by technology. Interesting enough there is a quote from Howard included in the article about Smartmobs (tm?). 8-) http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2003/02/14/MN97614.DTL Jeff
em kcik (satyr) Sat 15 Feb 03 10:37
The political right has been using impromptu, small scale guerrilla theater as a means of harassing their opposition for several years. These events have almost certainly been organized by pager and cell phone, but they haven't been advertising themselves as such. If you weren't a target of their activities you might not recognize them as being anything out of the ordinary.
Howard Rheingold (hlr) Sun 23 Feb 03 11:27
Can you say more about that, (satyr)? There's this today: <http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/23/weekinreview/23JLEE.html>
smelly old goat (satyr) Mon 24 Feb 03 08:18
Actually, about ten years would be closer to accurate, since about the time that Rush Limbaugh began his countdown of days until Clinton was out of office and Newt Gingerich was well on his way to becoming Speaker of the House, although I think the practice has probably been becoming gradually more widespread and sophisticated since then. It's a combination of pseudo-conversation centering on 'talking points' and at least some smidgen of information about the target, for whose ears the 'conversation' is actually intended. Rather like good sales practice, basically "know your customer" with a twist. (And it probably amounts to harassment only because people they've identified as being part of their opposition end up getting targeted more frequently.) Used to be that it required teams, but the prevalence of cell phones has made that unnecessary, since one-sided conversations have now become unremarkable. The giveaway is usually the (lack of) depth of understanding of whatever is used as the hook to get the attention of the target. I suppose they can't run the risk of looking too deeply into what they don't understand, for fear of being transformed themselves... (No surprise if I sound like a delusional paranoid; you'll just have to take my word for it that I'm not. ;-)
Gail Williams (gail) Mon 24 Feb 03 09:46
Has anyone identified such a scenario and documented exactly what was done -- or can you give a detailed example?
John Payne (satyr) Tue 25 Feb 03 10:05
<scribbled by satyr Tue 25 Feb 03 10:12>
smelly old goat (satyr) Tue 25 Feb 03 10:11
Possibly, I wouldn't know. My impression is that most who resolved the pattern in their minds at all, including some of the participants, took it for a sort of parlor game and failed to discern any serious motive behind it. It would be a very difficult phenomenon to actually study, without one of the organizers describing how it was done, and why. I'm extrapolating from what I've seen and heard for myself, which suggests the existence of a sort of cadre, the M.O. of which is primarily public performance in ordinary settings -- guerilla theater, but not meant to be taken for such -- possibly for hire(*), possibly politically motivated, possibly both (and possibly motivated by the personal ambition of the participants), which, at its most effective, is capable of leaving the unsuspecting with the impression that practically the whole world shares whatever obsession or point of view they're pushing at the moment. * In a time when advertising is everywhere and becoming less effective, for those more concerned with producing an effect than how much it costs, getting your representatives out in public in sufficient numbers to (by means of talking more and more loudly) dominate the appearance of what's on the mind of people in general (over one small area at a time) might seem like a worthwhile investment. Personally, I can't imagine that it would be cost-effective, but it seems like one of the more plausible explanations for what I've experienced. It's possible that I'm conflating multiple, competing groups, but I'd stand by the assertion that there are people out there doing this as though it were as a profession, and that my subjective evidence indicates coordination that could only be accomplished by means of wireless communications. Sorry for the drift. I didn't mean to coopt this topic, just interject a connection. It seems to me that the use of wireless isn't really so much the issue here as the willingness of people to perform at the direction of whoever is doing the coordination. Either they must trust that person or those people to share their own interests, or they just don't care and are in it for the thrill (or the money). That's for the few-to-many scenario. Are you aware of any examples of mass activity self-organizing without communications being filtered through a sort of clearinghouse, in many-to-many fashion?
Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Tue 25 Feb 03 12:31
Has anyone admitted to doing this? What did they do?
smelly old goat (satyr) Wed 26 Feb 03 09:01
Admitted to it clearly, unambiguously, and for the record? Not that I'm aware. Admitted to it among themselves, in hushed, slightly embarrassed tones, yes. There's nothing unusual about talking for the ears of someone not directly involved in a conversation. That's a human pattern that's older than dirt. What's novel here is the coordination of such activity for some larger purpose, with regard both to placement of the talkers in time and space, and to the content of what they say, using them rather like storm gossips. What that larger purpose is remains obscure, although there have been instances where it seemed to clearly be political and right-wing. There may not be just one. At least they're just talking...
Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Wed 26 Feb 03 16:36
"The political right has been using impromptu, small scale guerrilla theater as a means of harassing their opposition for several years. These events have almost certainly been organized by pager and cell phone, but they haven't been advertising themselves as such." I would like to read more about this. Do you have a source?
smelly old goat (satyr) Thu 27 Feb 03 07:27
'Fraid I haven't had need to read about it, so, if there is a literature, I'm not aware of it... And I should probably make explicit admission to a degree of inconsistency on this topic. Reconstructing in one's mind the 90% of an iceberg that's below the water line based on the 10% that's above it is a chancy business. One can roughly estimate its bulk, but, in the absence of tools adequate to detect it, its actual shape remains a matter of conjecture. I have, at various times, conceived various explanations, some of which still seem plausible, but they don't all occur to me immediately when the subject comes up again after being out of mind for awhile. If you really want to study this phenomenon, though, I'd suggest having a very close look at the crowd that appeared outside the room where ballots were being counted in (Dade County?) Florida, in November of 2000. Where did those people come from, how were they mobilized, did they truly believe what they were saying or was there a degree of performance involved, and, if it was at least in part a performance, who wrote the script and when and where did they develop their skills as players? That was a particularly incautious and revealing scene, in a high-stakes moment, not just an isolated incident.
Gail Williams (gail) Thu 27 Feb 03 09:27
That was a pretty ordinary phony demonstration using washington staffers. I think it was despicable, but I am not sure it is an example of what you have been saying.
smelly old goat (satyr) Fri 28 Feb 03 08:28
When did phony demonstrations using washington staffers become ordinary?
Gail Williams (gail) Fri 28 Feb 03 10:40
That appeared to be a pretty ordinary phony demonstration, with the fatal flaw of using identifiable washington staffers. I can't recall reading that swarming or smart mobbing or coordianted milling around were aspects, but I'd be interested if you have. It sure stunk.
smelly old goat (satyr) Sat 1 Mar 03 09:55
Okay, when did phony demonstrations become ordinary? To me it all looks very much the same, whether walking around in a public square carrying on an overly loud conversation composed of incongruous content (and the occasional catch-phrase) or standing outside a room where ballots are being counted yelling at the top of one's lungs. The essence of both is the suspension of the connection between the usual rules of conduct (what one might be expected or appears to be doing in any given circumstance) and what's actually happening, and the substitution of an agenda. And I expect there's a farm-team equivalent of those Washington staffers, composed of wannabe and former staffers, and wannabe and present party insiders, who practice public dissemblance whenever they happen to be in a place where they're unlikely to be recognized, possibly combining it with a ski holiday or some such. Granted that the connection to most "smart mobs" is tenuous, since, in most cases, protestors organized as Howard has described are probably openly representing their own real opinions, even if doing it under the coordination of some 'communications clearinghouse'.
Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Sat 1 Mar 03 16:09
re: "walking around in a public square carrying on an overly loud conversation composed of incongruous content (and the occasional catch-phrase)" So you've seen this somewhere? When and where? Tell us a story.
in search of this thread's end (satyr) Sat 1 Mar 03 16:57
Actually, I want to stop talking about it; I never meant to go on at such length in the first place. My perspective has been basically that of the practice dummy in bayonet school, a safe target that keeps taking the jabs...not a useful focus for inquiry...it was mostly just for practice. But where there is practice there is usually utilization, and I wouldn't want to dull your imagination as to what that might mean with the petty examples I've seen/heard first-hand.
Howard Rheingold (hlr) Tue 4 Mar 03 18:17
I talk about some of these disconnects in Chapter One, (satyr). FYI: <http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1101030310-428047,00.html>
Gail Williams (gail) Wed 5 Mar 03 09:51
Howard, how mobily networked are you these days? Do you use telephone, email, or more when you are out and about in your regular routine?
Howard Rheingold (hlr) Thu 6 Mar 03 09:42
I use a Treo 300 for telephone and mobile email and mobile web access. I'm hooked! I never leave home without it. Of course, I tend to not want to leave home if I don't have to. Ever since Airport, my spring-summer-fall office is under the plum tree in my garden.
Gail Williams (gail) Thu 6 Mar 03 09:44
That's sanity. Airport and a garden is halfway to heaven. Planting any corn this season?
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