CLOSE
Original image

The Changing Definition of "Flash Mob"

Original image

When most of us think of a flash mob, it's a big impromptu dance party, a spontaneous pillow fight or hundreds of people freezing in Grand Central Station. But lately, the media has been using the term to describe some much less enjoyable activities.


Consider this headline from USA Today: "'Flash mobs' pose challenge to police tactics." Or this one from the Philadelphia Inquirer last week: "Flash-mob violence raises weighty questions."


It's a big change for a term that was defined in the Oxford Concise Dictionary as an "unusual and pointless act," separate from the "smart mobs" that generally had more of a purpose. Gawker was among the blogs that seized on the use of the term, calling out the media for misusing a phrase that actually means "when several dozen aspiring standup comics use the internet to meet in a certain place to do a funky collaborative dance."

Lately, the term has been used to describe escalating violence in cities, especially Philadelphia.

After a series of violent attacks -- including some numbering in the hundreds -- Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter had to impose a 9 p.m. weekend curfew for the city's youth. In cities such as Washington, D.C., Cleveland and Chicago, groups organized online have flooded convenience stores and robbed them en masse. The term is even being used in London, where social media and texting played a large role in this summer's riots.

In an interview on Southern California's KPCC, author Howard Rheingold, who has written about smart mobs and other collective action, spoke to the changing nature of the flash mob. He pointed to collective action in Iran or Korea as a positive use of social media, while also acknowledging that it could be misused in some cases. But he stopped short of saying that the social media was at fault for the violence.

I think it's important to keep in mind that this new tool is kind of an accelerant, the way gasoline is an accelerant. if you can harness that ... and put your gasoline in an auto's engine then it can be beneficial. If you're going to splash it on a building and light a match, it's a problem. But it's not the fire itself, it's an accelerant.

Of course, the larger question for law enforcement officials is actually linking the violence to social media flash mobs. There is evidence that some of the so-called flash mobs were arranged over text or on a city bus, rather than being coordinated through the Internet. Regardless, Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey said in a chat with Philly.com that he's most concerned with stopping the violence. As to the use of "flash mob," he said succinctly, "I prefer the term 'rampaging thugs.'"

Original image
AFP/Stringer/Getty Images
arrow
technology
ABBA Is Going on Tour—As Holograms
Original image
AFP/Stringer/Getty Images

Missed your chance to watch ABBA perform live at the peak of their popularity? You’re in luck: Fans will soon be able to see the group in concert in all their chart-topping, 1970s glory—or rather, they’ll be able to see their holograms. As Mashable reports, a virtual version of the Swedish pop band is getting ready to go on tour.

ABBA split up in 1982, and the band hasn't been on tour since. (Though they did get together for a surprise reunion performance in 2016.) All four members of ABBA are still alive, but apparently not up for reentering the concert circuit when they can earn money on a holographic tour from the comfort of their homes.

The musicians of ABBA have already had the necessary measurements taken to bring their digital selves to life. The final holograms will resemble the band in the late 1970s, with their images projected in front of physical performers. Part of the show will be played live, but the main vocals will be lifted from original ABBA records and recordings of their 1977 Australian tour.

ABBA won’t be the first musical act to perform via hologram. Tupac Shakur, Michael Jackson, and Dean Martin have all been revived using the technology, but this may be one of the first times computerized avatars are standing in for big-name performers who are still around. ABBA super-fans will find out if “SOS” still sounds as catchy from the mouths of holograms when the tour launches in 2019.

[h/t Mashable]

Original image
Cinera
arrow
technology
This VR Headset Promises a Movie-Viewing Experience That Rivals Theaters
Original image
Cinera

Movies in 2017 are typically viewed one of two ways: on a big screen in the theater or from the comfort of your home. A new VR headset called Cinera claims to combine the best of both experiences. As Mashable reports, the device, currently seeking support on Kickstarter, lets viewers enjoy theater-quality home entertainment without so much as lifting their heads, let alone a finger.

Unlike other VR headsets on the market, Cinera is designed primarily for watching movies and TV shows rather than playing video games. Inside there are two screens—one for each eye—which create a 3D, IMAX-like effect. According to the product’s Kickstarter page, the picture resolution is eight times that of an iPhone and three times that of a professional theater screen. And because Cinera is all about enjoying theater-quality media in the comfort of a home setting, it includes one vital feature most VR headsets don’t have: an adjustable arm that holds up the hardware so your head doesn’t have to.

With less than a week to go in the campaign, Cinera has already surpassed its $50,000 funding goal at least five times over. Cinephiles looking for a different type of VR experience can reserve their headset for a pledge of $450 with shipments set to go out in November.

[h/t Mashable]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios