Smart Mobs in Seoul
June 12th, 2008

Thanks to Jean Min for the tip!

According to Jean Min of OhMyNews, the smart mobs first introduced by Howard Rheingold in his 2002 book are finally manifesting themselves in Seoul. “Koreans protesters against the import of US beef are Smart Mobs on steroids – they’ve already overturned the entrenched power of the old and conservative media” (Min, pers. comm.). The recent emergence of technology-enabled collective action in Korea has been spotted by the blogosphere: Tecnhnokimchi reports on the emergence of citizen journalism, Futurize Korea reports on technology-enabled protests, and OhMyNews writes about how its readers spontaneously provide a ‘long tail’ of funding in exchange for citizen media. As Futurize Korea’s article is called, “this is what you call ‘true citizen journalism.’” The 4th OhMyNews Forum is coming up on June 27th. If anyone goes, please report back. Kin, and the rest of us, would be eager to hear “another prediction about what will happen in 5 years when the full-scale, high powered mobile computing infrastructure is finally deployed” (Kin, pers. comm.).

Scenes from candlelight protests in Seoul.

(Images via Technokimchi from Electronic News and Money Today.)

Scenes of candlelight protests in Seoul. (Images via Technokimchi from Electronic News and Money Today.)

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Party time at South Korea’s protest 2.0 (Asia Times, Jun 13, 2008)

Thanks for introducing my blog! I just wrote another article related to the topic. Hope this helps :)

4 - R. Elgin

Thanks for the heads up on the IT Times article linked above.

Unfortunately, the events in Seoul are hardly the acts of a “smart mob”, rather, if “this is what you call ‘true citizen journalism.”, spreading gossip, lies and misinformation, then responsible journalism is in trouble.

Thank you for all those links — definitely broadened my view of the situation. In light of some of the aspects of recent behavior, if asked to address Koreans about these incidents, I would focus on the most important question: “How can you make sure your smart mobs get smarter, not more moblike?”

Rumor control is part of it. Trusted sources — call them “journalists” — who can look into the reality of the claims that fly around so fast in a flashmob situation. The critical uncertainty is whether those who look into the claims, go to primary sources, research the issue, interview experts, will be listened to. We’ve had in the USA for quite a while and the most blatantly impossible untruths (most perniciously, in the realm of political elections) just keep circulating. People still think Bill Gates will pay them for forwarding an email.

Where does that critical faculty come from? Isn’t that part of the duty of the journalist — citizen or professional?

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