Mobilising The Mob
The new generation of mobile phones users have become more than simply talkers. With the onset of new technological advances, including peer to peer methods and computer-pervaded environments, it is becoming increasingly possible for groups of people to organise and coordinate collective actions on a scale never before imagined. Talk has turned to action.
Consider the following cases in point where mobile phone technology has amplified cooperative human efforts on a scale not historically seen before.
- A million Filipinos toppled President Estrada through public demonstrations organised through salvos of text messages.
- Mobile phones were used by protesters at the 1999 World Trade Organisation meeting in Seattle to coordinate the demonstrations, and outwit the centralised radio system of the police.
- In May 2004, the human rights organisation Fahuma launched the first continent-wide campaign using SMS test messages in Africa as part of a campaign that involved sending electronic petitions.
Howard Rheingold is one of the world?s foremost authorities on the social implications of technology. He says, ?The people who make up smart mobs cooperate in ways never before possible because they carry devices that possess both communication and computing capabilities.? This does not only have to take the form of political action.
Barry Fox of New Scientist has found ?Sony Ericsson?s latest idea is to sell phones which automatically change the way they behave, depending on the time, date and place. For example, the wallpaper display on the screen shows pumpkins when the phone?s calendar sees the date is Halloween and Christmas puddings on December 25th. Network roaming, or GPS, can tell a phone what country it is in, so the ring-tone might change to a reggae tune as the plane touches down in Jamaica, for example.?
Perhaps the most significant factor in the phones rise as a collective catalyst that can adapt itself to the geography, culture or politics of its user?s lies is in its very mobility. Mobile phones are now carried everyday by a huge global network of users. In the UK alone, over 75% of the population owns a phone. With increasing network compatibility, new product development such as Bluetooth, and the means to message across rival mobile phone networks, it seems that the barriers to this new frontier of connecting technologies and connecting people are falling more and more.
As Rheingold adds, ?We may see social changes coming that we hadn?t expected.? By the evidence before us, we already have.
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About the Author: Mark is a lifetsyle freelance writer who enjoys pubbing, clubbing and relaxing to good music.