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Smart mobs, flash mobs. Meet cash mobs.

A couple of months ago I wrote about my new initiative – Means of Exchange – which focuses on how emerging, everyday technologies can be used to democratise opportunities for economic self-sufficiency, rebuild local communities and promote a return to local resource use. It’s been a busy few months, culminating in the launch of our first project this week. And here it is.

You’ve probably heard of smart mobs, or at least flash mobs. Welcome to the brave new world of cash mobs.

Cash mobbing takes its name from “flash mobbing”, a craze which started way back in 2003 in Manhattan, New York. In a flash mob, a group of people mobilise over social media and arrange to meet in a predetermined place. According to Wikipedia, when they get there they “perform an unusual and seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, and artistic expression”. Flash mobs were themselves inspired by “smart mobs”, a term coined by Howard Rheingold to describe a group that, contrary to the usual connotations of a mob, “behaves intelligently or efficiently because of its exponentially increasing network links”.

Continuing the theme, a “cash mob” takes place when a group of people arrange to meet at a local shop or store. When they get there, instead of dancing, singing or carrying out other “pointless acts”, they spend a predetermined amount of money. Cash mobs are generally organised by people who enjoy the fun, excitement and novelty of a cash mob, or others who are concerned about the plight of local businesses and want to do something to help.

A number of websites have sprung up over recent months encouraging people to cash mob their local stores, and a number of Facebook groups and Twitter feeds have been created to support their efforts. So far, people have either been given a few pointers and then told to go and figure out the social media bit for themselves, or they’ve been asked to propose local venues to local group ‘owners’ to choose from. We think people want to create their own cash mob, not settle for someone else’s, and they want to be able to seamlessly push it out through their existing social media, not fiddle around creating new accounts. So we built Cash Mobbers.

To coincide with the launch of the Cash Mobbers website we’ve organised what we believe to be London’s first cash mob at an independent bookshop in Hackney this Thursday (9th August).

Further details are available, naturally, on the Cash Mobbers website.

If the idea of driving business back to smaller, locally owned shops and stores is something that appeals to you, there’s a few things you can do:

1. Tweet about this post or the Cash Mobbers site to help spread the word
2. Follow @CashMobbers on Twitter
3. Tweet about the London cash mob, and “Like” the event
4. Let any friends in or around London know about it
5. Organise your own cash mob. Find full details and pointers here

My ethos with Means of Exchange remains the same as it has with much of my work over the years. The main objective is to build and gather a suite of engaging tools to help people help themselves, whenever they’re ready. Sometimes that can take a while, but I’m in no hurry. After all, build it, and they will come…

28 comments

1 Veena Gowda { 08.06.12 at 10:29 am }

Smart mobs, flash mobs. Meet cash mobs.: A couple of months ago I wrote about my new initiative – Means of Excha… http://t.co/5fn0rS4k

2 changefeed { 08.06.12 at 10:29 am }

->@kiwanja: Smart mobs, flash mobs. Meet cash mobs. http://t.co/ob6Vv9ls

3 Ken Banks { 08.06.12 at 12:05 pm }

Many of you wanted to know what I'd be working on post- @FrontlineSMS. Well, here it is. http://t.co/6jQu167N – First #cashmob this week!

4 robert fabricant { 08.06.12 at 12:08 pm }

Many of you wanted to know what I'd be working on post- @FrontlineSMS. Well, here it is. http://t.co/6jQu167N – First #cashmob this week!

5 Hapee de Groot { 08.06.12 at 12:12 pm }

Smart mobs, flash mobs. Meet cash mobs. http://t.co/1X43AbxS via @kiwanja in post #frontlinesms period

6 Laura Walker Hudson { 08.06.12 at 12:19 pm }

Go along to the first #cashmob Thursday 1pm GMT at Pages of Hackney – @kiwanja's first post-@FrontlineSMS project! http://t.co/EOmM8edk

7 Idris Ayo Bello { 08.06.12 at 12:43 pm }

Many of you wanted to know what I'd be working on post- @FrontlineSMS. Well, here it is. http://t.co/6jQu167N – First #cashmob this week!

8 robert fabricant { 08.06.12 at 1:04 pm }

#FabFeed Smart mobs, flash mobs. Meet cash mobs.: A couple of months ago I wrote about my new initiative – Means… http://t.co/EGQCmhPv

9 Sean McDonald { 08.06.12 at 1:14 pm }

Check out the latest from @kiwanja: http://t.co/LQUd3UN6 – First #cashmob this week!

10 Jody Ranck { 08.06.12 at 2:00 pm }

Smart mobs, flash mobs. Meet cash mobs. http://t.co/qj1yUa2F

11 Susannah Vila { 08.06.12 at 2:29 pm }

Smart mobs, flash mobs. Meet cash mobs – intrsting look at evolving tactics by @kiwanja http://t.co/2B32948L

12 TechChange { 08.06.12 at 4:41 pm }

Want to promote local business?! @Cashmobs is a stimulus for the local economy with a model akin to @Carrotmob. http://t.co/QR4POtL4

13 Smart mobs, flash mobs. Meet cash mobs. | Global Health Hub: news and blogosphere aggregator { 08.06.12 at 4:59 pm }

[...] Excerpt from: Smart mobs, flash mobs. Meet cash mobs. [...]

14 Liberationtech { 08.06.12 at 5:25 pm }

Must read || Smart mobs, flash mobs… Meet cash mobs http://t.co/rVJUxqKH & http://t.co/A9bOXWin by @kiwanja cc @hrheingold

15 Textually { 08.06.12 at 7:27 pm }

Cash Mobs: When a group of people arrange to meet at a local store not to dance but to spend a predetermined amount
http://t.co/VerRhl3S

16 Textually { 08.06.12 at 7:28 pm }

Cash Mobs: When a group of people arrange to meet at a local store not to dance but to spend a predetermined amount
http://t.co/VerRhl3S

17 lovisa { 08.06.12 at 9:23 pm }

Many of you wanted to know what I'd be working on post- @FrontlineSMS. Well, here it is. http://t.co/6jQu167N – First #cashmob this week!

18 imogen { 08.06.12 at 9:31 pm }

Go along to the first #cashmob Thursday 1pm GMT at Pages of Hackney – @kiwanja's first post-@FrontlineSMS project! http://t.co/EOmM8edk

19 Chris Lily { 08.06.12 at 10:35 pm }

Smart mobs, flash mobs. Meet cash mobs. | Build it Kenny, and they …: A couple of months ago I wrote about my … http://t.co/6rIAffob

20 Mich Sineath { 08.06.12 at 11:15 pm }

Cash mobs: Meet up, buy something, make friends and support local businesses http://t.co/SnvKNgzU

21 Cash Mobs { 08.07.12 at 1:50 am }

Want to promote local business?! @Cashmobs is a stimulus for the local economy with a model akin to @Carrotmob. http://t.co/QR4POtL4

22 Rodrigo Davies { 08.07.12 at 8:53 am }

From #flashmob to #cashmob – a new way to stimulate local business? Coming to Hackney this Thurs: http://t.co/sI91pNca @kiwanja @cashmobs

23 Patrick Meier { 08.07.12 at 8:56 am }

RT @rodrigodavies: From #flashmob to #cashmob – a new way to stimulate local business? http://t.co/ZdTnoLCo @kiwanja @cashmobs

24 Florence Scialom { 08.07.12 at 10:24 am }

RT @rodrigodavies From #flashmob to #cashmob: A new way to stimulate local business? In Hackney this Thurs http://t.co/0pYhpTa0 via @kiwanja

25 Pia Muzaffar { 08.07.12 at 10:31 am }

Hey Mr Money Advisor @JohnnyTomlinson, have you heard of @CashMobbers? There's one in Hackney on Thursday http://t.co/wCD4viuU

26 Dinesh Pothineni { 08.07.12 at 11:06 am }

From #flashmob to #cashmob – a new way to stimulate local business http://t.co/prKt3eIB @cashmobs

27 Cash mobbing in London Silvia Cambié { 08.13.12 at 10:30 am }

[...] idea – based on “flash-mobbing” – is extremely inspiring. It has a lot of potential for [...]

28 » L’été des usages innovants : petite séance de rattrapage d’avant la rentrée { 08.28.12 at 2:08 pm }

[...] Kiwanja / Après les smart mobs, les flash mobs, voici les cash mobs ou comment la connexion revital… [...]

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