Flashmob Rules

In the wake of the G20 and NATO meetings there has been much froth in the online press about how social media tools are helping demo organizers to mobilize forces quickly. The term "flashmobbing" arose from the use of text messaging to quickly bring together a group of people to some event, such as a secret party. The term is now being used by demonstrators using sites such as Twitter and Facebook to announce rendezvous points just minutes before the expected swarm.

Twitter in particular, as a kind of online text messaging service, has grabbed much of the attention. However, once hooked, the demand for instant updates means that the twitters feel the need to transmit the most minuscule details of the experience, such as the desire for a nice hot cup of tea! Yes, there is serious stuff too, but just take a look at... picked at random, Comandante Flops and Climate Camp. I think it's great that organizers have that level of contact with people who come out and support them but the police are only one step behind. A group of police tweeters is going to be following every message and every move that hits the net. Public support requires public information. Hence, a secret demonstration isn't going to erupt unless the police are asleep on the job.

But just as the police record every incident with myriad cameras, including helicopter footage, so as to analyse mob dynamics, so the demonstrators should analyse police response dynamics. But then again, that's no doubt why it is now an offence to photograph a police officer in the UK. It can still be done covertly. Let the cat-and-mouse games commence in earnest.
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