Clear and to the Point

8 November, 2008

Larry Niven should be proud

A term that Larry Niven invented, “flash crowd,” has entered the lexicon in a useful way. It’s sometimes called “flash mob,” which has an ethological ring reminiscent of “mobbing behaviour” by birds. Modern concepts are discovered this way: I believe it was Theodore Sturgeon who anticipated the traffic jam.

It has also been organized into a useful group effort. It’s like a barn-building “bee” that calls on participants to volunteer at random instead of calling one well-known neighbours.

Here’s an example: “Flash mob cataloging party.”

flash-mob-cataloguing

Mob cataloguing is also done online by people publishing photographs of their bookshelves and letting viewers catalogue what they see.

This represents a new and powerful way of using Internet contributions deliberately to accomplish tasks that otherwise would not attract the resources to do them.

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1 Comment »

  1. Let’s hope his other concept–that of the state executing people for traffic offenses so they may harvest their valuable organs–doesn’t enter any kind of lexicon.

    Best–

    Comment by Shawn Michel de Montaigne — 12 November, 2008 @ 15:58 | Reply


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