Analyzing flash mobs in cybernetic space and the imminent security threats a collective action based theoretical perspective on emerging sociotechnical behaviors
S. Al-Khateeb and N. Agarwal
Sociotechnical Behavior Mining: From Data to Decisions? Papers from the 2015 AAAI Spring Symposium
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Since the occurrence of the first ‘flash mob’ organized by Bill Wasik (senior editor of the Harper’s Magazine) in Manhattan in 2003, flash mob phenomenon has become widespread. Recent journalistic accounts have reported that this form of public engagement can pose significant threats to civil, political, social, and economic stability of a region. Gaps in the scientific understanding of such phenomenon and the imminent security risks posed by such acts call for a need to systematically study them. In this ongoing research, we shed light on the social dynamics of the flash mob phenomenon and build a conceptual model examining the necessary factors for the formation of flash mob and predicting its success or failure. Grounded in the sociological theories of collective action and collective identity formation, we evaluate the motivations of a flash mob practitioner and logically analyze the choices he/she would face with regards to acting or withdrawing from the flash mob. More broadly, this work is an attempt to bridge social and computational sciences that would help clarify and explain manifestations of emerging sociotechnical behaviors such as parkour, campaigns, and social movements that are widely observed.