distributed flash mobbing

Chelsea and I have been discussing the viability of what were calling a distributed web mob. The idea would be that all of us would go to a given place at predetermined date and time, just as how its been done in New York by the Flash Mob folks. The only difference would be that we wouldnt all meet in the same place. Instead we would meet at different locations of the same national chain. In this case, the place would be Caribou Coffee.

Heres Chelseas letter that got the conversation started:

Here’s my idea: What if hundreds of people all over the country went into coffee shops at the same time on the same day, all reading copies of the article that got Marc Shultz into trouble? Huh? Huh?

First off, do you remember the Marc Shultz thing? He was the guy in Atlanta who was reported to the FBI for reading a suspicious article while having a cup of coffee at Caribou Coffee. Someone must have watched him leave and jotted down his license plate number. Two FBI agents later tracked him down and work and questioned him as to what he was reading. It turns out that it was an article entitled “Weapons of Mass Stupidity” by Hal Crowther. His dad had emailed to him.

So, Im curious to know who might be interested in following through on what could be just a very small inside joke. I personally havent read the Weapons of Mass Stupidity column and Im thinking that I might as well read it at Caribou Coffee at the same time some of you are. (That in itself could be kind of neat the feeling of all of us reading the same thing at the same time.)

Heres my response to Chelseas first note:

I love the idea, Chelsea. We’d have to call it something to get people’s attention though. How about a Flush Mob, a kind of distributed mob that happens not in one place, but spread out all over? This first one we could get people all over the US to go to their local Caribou Coffee place, or perhaps even Starbucks, and suspiciously read the same article. I wonder if anyone would do it… except for me and you… and we might eventually chicken out. It would be fun. Maybe I will actually act on this idea of yours. Maybe I will.

So, thats how the idea for the worlds first Flush Mob was born. It may just be Chelsea and I, but I think were going to give it a go. Who knows, you might do it too You might go into your local coffee shop at the designated date and time and see someone else who just happens to be suspiciously reading the same article. That would be kind of cool, wouldnt it?

So, I guess if anyone wants to, we could pick a time and then maybe even send out an email chain letter Maybe I should read the article first to see if it warrants the attention. It would suck if we have dozens of people, perhaps even hundreds of people, print out this article carry it into a coffee shop and read it, if its no good. Maybe thats the risk well have to take though.

So, I ask you, would this be a good exercise? Would this be worth doing? I am personally thinking that it would be good for me to participate just because it would force me to spend the time thinking about privacy issues and how much freedom were willing to give up for security.

OK, thats it for now. Think about it and get back to me. I will, over the course of the next few days, convene with my Board of Directors and get back to you with a date and a time. In the meantime, dont read that article that I linked to.

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