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MOB #6


Oh, how I hoped Mob #6 would be in Times Square proper, out in the open, with tourists gaping at us from all sides. (When, Bill, when?) Instead, it was in Toys R Us, and it was a cute idea, but in some ways it fell flat again. More on that later.

The instructions had us gathering on the second floor of Toys R Us, staring transfixed at the giant animatronic dinosaur for three minutes, then dropping to our knees and, for four more minutes, reacting to its loud roars by moaning and cowering behind outstretched hands.

Going up the escalator

The crowd, before the official starting time of the mob.
The crowd

The actual moaning-and-cowering part only lasted a minute; the panicked Toys R Us staff shut the dinosaur off and scrambled to call the cops, at which point a massive exodus began.
The retreat

By the scheduled end time, the dinosaur area was back to normal: just the usual Japanese tourists taking pictures of their families next to the dinosaur.
Tourist taking picture of the dinosaur

On our way out, the cop was pretty much useless, telling us to leave, which we were doing anyway.
Cop directing traffic

Meanwhile, on the lower level, an Australian-sounding radio journalist interviewed utterly bewildered tourists about what had just happened, then explained it to them:
Australian radio interview

My verdict? A cute idea, but not public enough; again, it was in a store, with limited means of ingress and egress; I'd still like to see one outdoors in a heavily trafficked public place, where the mob can form from all directions and disperse in all directions as well, and where there are more spectators to bewilder. Once again, people jumped the gun, starting each phase too early and dispersing too early (why not cower at a dinosaur even after it's been turned off?). I estimated the crowd at 500+, easily the biggest inexplicable mob yet, and I can only imagine that the larger crowd was drawn by hopes of an outdoor mob in Times Square. But maybe that's just my bias speaking.

Don't get me wrong -- the mob was a lot of fun, in the same way that all the mobs have been. I just feel like we haven't really taken the next step yet, and I keep hoping we will.

More coverage: Fred Hoysted, Ginger, Dan Winckler, Fancy Robot, Queixa, Moist and Tasty (nice action shots from the cowering-in-fear part), Glowlab, CCE, Cheesebikini

I'm quoted in today's Philadelphia Inquirer. The article mentions mobproject.com, which is soliciting donations but is not affiliated with the mob project. It also sounds a bit like a pyramid scheme. I would not recommend giving them money.

( MOB #2 at Macy's | MOB #3 at the Grand Hyatt | MOB #4 at Otto Tootsi Plohound | MOB #5 in Central Park )

8:31 PM | Comments (28) | TrackBack (11)


There's me - whee! :) Good thoughts & photos Mike; my commentary to follow in the fullness of time...

Posted by: Ginger at August 7, 2003 09:17 PM

I talked to Bill before this mob, and he sounded like he had something great lined up, but I agree: same old problems. I hope he reads your site and gets the message. There's nothing inexplicable about the dispersing crowd when everyone has to get on line and file past a police officer. The mob should be able to form and melt effortlessly, like an organism.

Posted by: Dave at August 7, 2003 09:32 PM

Hey man, congrats on the quote. Nice photos and reportage :)

Posted by: johnny at August 8, 2003 12:30 AM

You may want to take a look at these entries. He's vulgar, but makes some good points, especially in the second post.



Posted by: Jer at August 8, 2003 01:05 AM

Good point about the "next step." We're pondering the same question.

Posted by: Glowlab at August 8, 2003 01:35 AM

I've got pictures on my site if you're interested.
I had fun, but felt it was nearly impossible to disperse properly. Although, once you got out of the store- it was simple- everyone blended into the masses of tourists.

Posted by: Lauren at August 8, 2003 02:37 PM

It even got covered on the BBC News at 6 o'clock in Merry Ole England!

Posted by: K at August 8, 2003 02:59 PM

the "next step" eh -- tell me what you think of my radio-controlled mobs idea.

Posted by: chris at August 9, 2003 12:34 AM

I got caught in that last night, and had no idea what it was. Very interesting. I had it explained to me by a guy with a camera a few minutes after.

Posted by: Keiko at August 9, 2003 01:57 AM

I'm a mobber-wannabe in NC... PLeeze tell me when you're mobbing down Saaath!

Posted by: The Schugg at August 10, 2003 08:57 PM

Hey, you guys need more African-Americans in your mobs. That would scare the piss out of any tourist and would get the cops called much sooner. I'm all about inciting police brutality and then you could be considered equal-oppurtunity mobbers. After all is said and done, your photos and videos can be sold to 60 Minutes or some other news outlet for huge sums of money. That is all.

Posted by: Fissell at August 10, 2003 09:15 PM

There is going to a be a mob at the base of central park at 4 -- I think it's called "MY GOD" at flocksmart --I'm going.

Posted by: Susan at August 10, 2003 09:47 PM

Hi im from Mexico city, and i want to do this in my country can you help me?...Thanks and have fun.

Posted by: RH at August 11, 2003 11:37 AM

Hi im from Mexico city, and i want to do this in my country can you help me?...Thanks and have fun.

Posted by: RH at August 11, 2003 11:37 AM

Loved the MOB at the State offices in California where hundreds of people showed up to submit petitions to run for Governor, then quickly dispersed.

Posted by: Bruce Burns at August 11, 2003 02:25 PM

Hello. My compliments on your coverage of the mob project.

There seems to be a misunderstanding that I'd like to clear up. Your site introduced me to today's Philadelphia Inquirer article, which I was unaware of. We were never interviewed by the Philadelphia Inquirer, so naturally we were surprised to see us mentioned there. We have never made the statement that we were responsible for organizing flash mobs. I invite you and your readers to visit the site and see for yourself. Here is a direct quote from the very front of the website: "We are not flash mob organizers and we do not plan to be involved in anything unethical or illegal. Think of us as intrigued bystanders. We can be compared to the newsreporters who go to the trenches with the military to report from the front line... we are reporting the war, but we are not involved in the war."

We have received many, many requests to be included in on mob projects... of which we've been no part of as of yet and have never claimed to be. It is our hope to get involved though... very heavily.

You made the statement that we are "soliciting donations" and that we sound "a bit like a pyramid scheme". With all due respect, absolutely nothing on this site, in the least, has even the remotest hint of a pyramid scheme. I don't understand where that assumption is from. Yes, we do mention the fact that people can donate... but most of the information was only posted when I had numerous inquiries on how money could be donated to support the site. Naturally, a little money would go a long way in keeping the site up and running, so I don't understand what the issue is. In fact, the emphasis for donations is asked for primarily in the form of volunteers to write articles, etc. Again, let me quote (and you may verify this on our site, which message has not been altered since its inception): "But we need your help... If you're a flashmob afficianado or have the inside scoop on the Mob Project, we want to hear from you. We need people willing to write for us, as well as do on-location reporting when there are flash mobs in progress. Of course, 'Bill', if you're reading this, we would really love to interview you." Only later, in a separate box on the page, entitled "Can You Volunteer?" do we even mention money... in fact, it's only one sentence long: "If you have any interest in being involved in helping Mob Project 1.0, please email the administrator of this website, mobproject@skinnysumo.net . Please include any contact information you are willing to disclose as well as a short description of the skills that you can bring to the table, as well as what you would like to personally do to help. Serious inquiries only, please. Also, we will be needing monetary support to help pay for the hosting and administration of this site, so if you're interested in helping out in a financial way, please contact the administrator as well." That quote was there from the beginning... upon receiving several inquiries on how to donate money, we added this info: "Donate! We are a brand new organization and sure could use your help. Whether it's some advertising space somewhere, your expertise as a marketer, a server, or just some cold hard cash, we can use it all.

For monetary donations, if you have PayPal, you may sent to one of two accounts...
CASH BACKED: mobproject@skinnysumo.net for any donation not funded by a credit card
CREDIT CARD: itakecreditcards@www.com for any donation funded by a credit card
Please be aware that using a credit card to fund your donation will result in a service fee to us... if at all possible, we would obviously prefer cash-based donations send to the cash-only account, in order to avoid the service charges."

So, I rest my case. I hope that you can see that, yes, we, like everyone else, could certainly use some money... but we are not "soliciting donations" as you claim and it certainly is NOT our primary objective, nor are we doing anything that even remotely resembles a pyramid scheme, as you claimed.

I urge you to post this where all can view it. I hope that I have been able to clear up some misunderstandings. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, don't hesitate to contact me via the email address posted on my website. (This will change soon, as we're changing hosting services and introducing the official new web design.)

Thanks for your time.


Tom Grow

Posted by: Tom Grow at August 12, 2003 01:11 AM

i wanna get into one of these flash mobs, im only 14 but hey, it sounds pretty cool. i hope theres no age restiction.

Posted by: Shadow at August 12, 2003 01:45 PM

Im from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and ive been thinking for a very long time about begining a movement like this, although i thought of it in different formats. I think the will behind the mob has a lot to do with the stuff im thinking about. should you be interested in getting global drop me line.

wobodobo, we come in peace

Posted by: ego at August 13, 2003 05:48 PM

How about starting one here in MD? I would love to be a part of it!

Posted by: Queenof1 at August 14, 2003 06:54 PM

can we do one in philly?

Posted by: Andy at August 15, 2003 03:01 PM

I am truly impressed by the ingenuity of this all. This is also happening in singapore and the Toy r us event was also covered in the news over here.
Way cool. You need more people to make an impact.

Posted by: Sanchez at August 23, 2003 01:18 AM

i am in puerto rico, lets do it in here too, in plaza las americas, the biggest mall in the carribean.

Posted by: molly at August 24, 2003 07:35 AM

hi, how do u get the e-mails to go to the flash mobs, i wanna go!

Posted by: michelle at August 24, 2003 12:42 PM

What a bunch of losers with no life!

Posted by: bob at September 2, 2003 08:30 PM

AArgh! I just moved to N.Y and I cant seem to get on your mailing list...Can,t somebody contact me so I can finally become a true Mob member?

Posted by: alicia_inNY at September 11, 2003 10:23 AM

By the posts it appears hockey pucks have become cyborgs. Motivation to "expand to the next level", activate social agendas, govern spontinaity, offend as a purpose, are viruses infecting. Flashes of mild lunacy are the whole smile, free and all that is sought, an escape from these. Bowling pins have a life. Hut-hut! Gone.

Posted by: Clouddancer at September 11, 2003 01:41 PM

Thank God that you all stay in the City.

Posted by: Haserie at November 16, 2003 08:45 AM

yes, it is all so macabre..

like a fine beer.

Posted by: gregg at April 7, 2004 02:52 PM