View Full Version : #Riot: Self-Organized, Hyper-Networked Revolts - Coming to a City Near You

Bartholomew Roberts
January 6, 2012, 09:19 AM
Wired Magazine has an interesting article on social media and rioting:

The article is written by Bill Wasik, who was one of the first people to come up with the idea of "fllash mobs" and was one of the early innovators in the fad back when it was mainly a prankish/performance type of event. The article is 8 pages and every bit of it is a good read; but the author makes a few points that I think are relevant to Tactics & Training.

1. The author highlights that while the crowd may seem anarchic, the crowd has a sense of shared identity and that if that sense of shared identity includes a low respect for local authority, violence is more likely.

2. The author notes that merely doubling a crowd can more than double the propensity for violence and has an excellent discussion of an event in LA, where a crowd whose "identity" was actually very peacefull and non-violent, turned violent (short version: too many people in too little space, disdain for authority among the crowd increased as the police made impossible requests by ordering people to clear the street when there was no room on the sidewalk for people to move to)

3. The author identifies locations that are more susceptible to this phenomenon than others (shopping malls for example).

The read is detailed and difficult to summarize earily; but I think the article offers a lot of insights that would be useful to TFL members in recognizing when these situations are developing (including videos showing them developing) and better understanding why these situations develop,

January 6, 2012, 11:41 AM
Pardon me, but there is a lot of distain for authority expressed on this forum, though I have faith that no one here would be the least bit violent.

You may recall the country went through some very serious rioting in the past, especially in the late 1960s. Some were worse than others, all were bad. There are other factors that I believe increase the propensity for violence under the right conditions.

Oddly enough, I think that the more news coverage being given a peaceful protest, the more likely it could turn violent. Likewise, the more police (and which police) that are on hand will have an influence. Sometimes the simple presence of cameras, especially news cameras, will make people misbehave and not just in a crowd situation. Some people just like to show off, you know.

January 6, 2012, 06:30 PM
You may recall the country went through some very serious rioting in the past, especially in the late 1960s. I certainly remember Detroit, 1967.

January 6, 2012, 10:45 PM

I remember a lot of riots. 1967, Watts rights (multiple), MLK Assasination, Rodney King, OJ, and WTO to name a few.

Normally these affairs were limited to a fairly localized area. During the Rodney King riots the rioters used the freeway system to move the violence out of the South Central area to other parts of LA. This was considered an inovation in riots.

. The Mexican Maffia has about 40,000 members in LA. If they were for some reason to employ these "Flash Mob" techniques, I forsee a major disaster.

Consider also the fact that several gangs have chapters all across the US, using this technology they could cause major disruptions in every major city and many minor towns at the same time. This type activity would quickly overwhelm the local civil authority and the National Guard.

Makes me thankful that I have retired to my remote mountain home.

January 7, 2012, 07:21 AM
You don't think the mafia would destroy its customer base, do you?

Lee Lapin
January 7, 2012, 12:45 PM
Thanks for the post, BR. Reading it now...

January 7, 2012, 02:36 PM
Riots have been part of America since before it's founding. Sam Adams and other patriots organized some pretty violent riots.
Political riots after the revolution were very fierce. In one such riot a former revolutionary war general was one of the people dragged out and lynched because they supported the wrong party.

As time passed the nature of riots started to change, to a degree. Police riots became more normal. Most if not all labor riots from the 1840s on were police riots.

What was unusual about the race riots of the 60s is that the actors were African Americans. Historically a race riot was whites rioting against blacks,

Flash mobs such as in the article were predicted in science fiction. Larry Niven in one of his short stories described them. Although his story involved novel forms of transportation rather than communication.

I kind of doubt the hipsters tweeting at each other are going to emulate the Watts riots. More likely they'll throw garbage cans through the windows of Starbucks like the trust fund anarchists did at the WTO demonstrations.
Of course throwing garbage cans gave cover to a pretty large police riot in Seattle. So who knows, maybe we should start arresting those kids breaking into song at the food court.