There was a great article in the March issue of Harper's written by Bill Wasik, the inventor of the flashmob. I just noticed that it was posted on their website, and thought I would share the link. Those of you who think this post is too long already probably don't need to bother making the jump, but there are some nice observations on the nature of 'scenes' (and their co-optation by corporate advertisers) that may be of interest to many here.
Perhaps this is the explanation for Fusion Flash Concerts, an otherwise inexplicable marketing program this past summer in which Ford, attempting to sell a new sedan to the underthirty- five market, partnered with Sony to appropriate what may be the most forgettable hipster fad of the past five years. That fad is the “flash mob,” which, according to a definition hastily added in 2004 to the Oxford English Dictionary, is “a public gathering of complete strangers, organized via the Internet or mobile phone, who perform a pointless act and then disperse again.” In fact the flash mob, which dates back only to June 2003, had almost entirely died out by that same winter, despite its having spread during those few months to all the world's continents save Antarctica. Not only was the flash mob a vacuous fad; it was, in its very form (pointless aggregation and then dispersal), intended as a metaphor for the hollow hipster culture that spawned it.
I know this because I happen to have been the flash mob's inventor.