Monday, June 29, 2009

FriendFeed, Syphilis And The Perfection Of Online Mobs

People have always been inclined to join mobs - most people have at
least one story to tell about a time that they got swept up in or had
to face a crowd demanding justice for one thing or another (both of my
experiences were in college). The Internet has proven to be a
frighteningly efficient tool to create virtual mobs. But we note two
trends that suggest a bleak future: the increase in non-anonymous mob
participation and the evolution of online services towards ever more
efficient and real time communication platforms that facilitate mob
creation and growth like never before. Things are changing online way
too fast for society and culture to adapt. Something will eventually

I'm going to pick on FriendFeed in this post because I believe it is
the nearest thing to Shangri-La for mob justice enthusiasts. I explain
why below. But first I want to compare FriendFeed to Syphilis, which
may have been the "perfect" disease when it first hit Europe in the
15th century. Today Syphilis takes years to kill its victims and is
easily treated with antibiotics. But back in the early 1500's it led
to certain death within months.

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