Rheinghold, “Smart Mobs”

Howard. "Smart Mobs: The Power of the Mobile Many." Vitanza

"Smart mobs are an unpredictable but at least partially describable emergent
property that I see surfacing as more people use mobile telephones, more chips
communicate with each other, more computers know where they are located, more
technology becomes wearable, more people start using these new media to invent
new forms of sex, commerce, entertainment, communion, and, as always, conflict"

An virtual enthusiast, Rheingold covers a range of issues related to
wireless, handheld and portable devices (wearable computing) while considering
the potentials of digitally enabled collectivity. His examples are
primarily political and popular press (news items). He recounts the power
struggle of Philippine President Joseph Estrada and the impact of "smart mobs"
in toppling the regime. Because cellular phones are so inexpensive, the
citizen (peer-to-peer) journalism they enable is potentially a major force in
social and political change. Rheinghold the technical infrastructure as "a
social instrument" (93).

"Examples later in this chapter demonstrate that smart mobs engaging in
either violent or nonviolent netwar represent only a few of the many possible
varieties of smart mob.[…] Networks include nodes and links, use many possible
paths to distribute information from any link to any other, and are
self-regulated through flat governance hierarchies and distributed power" (96).
Rheingold goes on to clarify–is this a given yet?–that networks and networking
technologies are neither inherently good nor inherently bad (97).

Rheingold’s discussion of "personal awareness devices" is very
interesting–related to "reputation systems" (98) and GPS. Basically, the
locative devices enable real-time social positioning notifications. ^I
still find it fascinating that such devices might be used to observe patterns at
an academic conference, such as the CCCC.

"What if smart mobs could empower entire populations to engage in
peer-to-peer journalism?" (101).

"’Mobile ad hoc social network’ is a longer, more technical term than ‘smart
mob.’ Both terms describe the new social form made possible by the combination
of computation, communication, reputation, and location awareness. The mobile
aspect is already self-evident to urbanites who see the early effects of mobile
phones and SMS" (103).

"The research is as much behavioral as it is computational, beginning with
simple experiments matching properties of mobile computing with the needs of
social networks" (104).

"Trust means a distributed reputation system" (106).

"The coordinated movements of schools and flocks is a dynamically shifting
aggregation of individual decisions" (110).

"Oscillation is one of the standard and simplest emergent phenomena" (111).
^ Connect this with Lanham in Economics of Attention?

Terms: Goffman’s "interaction order" (105), "epidemics of cooperation" (108),
"synchronization of brain processes" (111),

Related sources:
Ball, Philip. Critical Mass. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2004.
Goffman, Erving. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Garden
City, N.J.: Doubleday, 1959.
Granovetter, Mark. "Threshold Models of Collective Behavior, " American
Journal of Sociology
. 83.6 (1978): 1420-1443.
Huberman, Bernardo. "The Social Mind." Origins of the Human Brain.
Jean-Pierre Changeuz and Jean Chavaillon, eds. Oxford: Clarendon, 1995: 250.