Ming the Mechanic:
Integrating and Evolving a Mob

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 Integrating and Evolving a Mob2003-03-07 18:22
by Flemming Funch

SmartMobs mentions a paper on Integrating and Evolving a Mob: The Growth of a Smart Mob into a Wireless Community of Practice. It is a case study based on activities organized via HipTop Nation
Based on experiences with Hiptop Nation, it appears that by having ubiquitous mobile data communication devices and a successful communal blog, it is possible to create an ideal environment within which a smart mob can grow into a goal-oriented mobile community of practice. Communal blogs play a critical role in the creation of three essential elements of community: the establishment of social capital, the creation of weak ties that foster creativity, and the formation of a sense of “place” within which everything can happen. (3, 4, 5). The final crucial ingredient is a complex goal.

In these special circumstances, a smart mob can not only quickly change into a mobile community of practice, but once its goals have been achieved it can just as quickly “dissolve” back into a smart mob. This is metaphorically similar to the way certain liquid solutions can quickly crystallize, dissolve back into liquid, and then recrystallize based on external influences. By adding an external influence, namely a specific shared goal, one can “precipitate” the crystallization of these smart mobs into powerful mobile communities of practice. After the goals have been achieved, during which participants have gained expertise in their particular domains, the group can dissolve back into a smart mob and be ready to rapidly recrystallize whenever new goals are introduced.

The increasing popularity of communal blogs, coupled with more sophisticated ubiquitous mobile communication devices (9, 10, 11), will most likely make this interesting social phenomenon more common in the future. A future opportunity will be the deliberate cultivation of this phenomenon, as it has the ability to create incredibly effective and creative goal-oriented teams of mobile individuals.
I like the crystalization and dissolution thing. And, yes, blogs and mobile data devices and a shared goal are good pre-conditions for ad hoc organization to happen.

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