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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Saturday, May 15, 2004
    Network antics
    Coming to the end of Network Logic I was struck by Howard Rheingold's reflections on the activities of 'Smart mobs', activists brought together by new technology, like the Phillipinos who, on 20 January 2001, toppled President Joseph Estrada from power. Following the abrupt ending of his impeachment trial by sympathetic senators, Manila residents began to assemble in their thousands on Epifanio de los Santas Avenue (known as 'Edsa'), in response to a text message, 'Go 2EDSA, Wear blck'. Their peaceful protests eventually caused Estrada's government to fall.

    Rheingold sees "a possible connection between computer-wearing social networks of thinking, communicating humans and the swarm intelligence of unthinking (but also communicating) ants, bees, fish, and birds. Individual fish and birds (and tight-formation fighter pilots) school and flock simply by paying attention to what their nearest neighbours do."

    Thousands of years ago the Proverb writer said, "Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!" Now, we're getting round to it. I was considering all this whilst completely contradicting my Easter radio message of last year, and squirting Ant Kill down cracks in the floorboards this afternoon. They're mobbing on my house; and I don't have the language to send them elsewhere.