The 1973 story “Flash Crowd” describes an event in a future world in which an argument in a public location swells into a small riot. The news reports the event, spawning a social disruption that grows and intensifies with incredible speed.
In the 43 years hence, Flash Crowds – now known as Flash Mobs – have taken various forms. In 2003, 130 people gathered at a Manhattan Macy’s, wanting to buy a rug for the warehouse where they claimed to live together. This was followed by a group of 200 people breaking into 15 seconds of ‘spontaneous’ applause in a hotel. Flash Mobs have evolved into pranks, artworks, and even political movements (e.g., the Arab Spring uprising).