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Tech’s New Frontier

April 13th, 2010 | Bob Rosner

Image: Bob RosnerFlash mob. I was faintly aware of the concept. Mostly it had to do with pillow fights and Michael Jackson tributes. Then on Saturday I stumbled upon one. It left me remarkably hopefully. Really. And there is even a business point here, but first more on the mob.

My daughter Frankie and I were walking across the Seattle Center grounds. We suddenly noticed that there were hundreds of people milling about. You just got the sense that something was in the air. So we wandered over. The energy was palpable.

There seemed to be a focal point, at one end of the park. We decided to check it out. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a gymnast started doing cartwheels and forward rolls across the field. It was incredibly dramatic.

Then approximately thirty dancers started dancing to the song “Don’t Stop Believing.” Clearly there were two star-crossed lovers. When the woman leaped into the man’s arms the crowd exploded in joy.

Now is when the really freaky part starts. Hundreds of people started dancing to the music. It felt like every aerobics class that I’ve ever seen, that everyone else was privy to dance routines and that I hadn’t gotten the memo.

Remember, I had no idea what was going on. It was like a Broadway show suddenly burst upon us. Amazing, intoxicating, but most of all very fun.

Later I learned that this was called Flash Mob Seattle. That there were videos online that taught the dance moves and that the core group of dancers that started off the festivities had gone to a rehearsal. But that didn’t diminish the remarkable energy from the young kids, old people and everyone in between.

What does this have to do with work? I saw the power of our technology not to isolate people, but to bring them together. In a remarkable way.

Tools are tools. But I felt a sense of community in that gathering that I’ve hardly ever felt in my life.

Here is a link to another gathering that happened on the same day. Unfortunately you miss the initial gymnast, but you’ll get the rest of the performance (there is an ad at the beginning of it, but it’s for the local paper not me). http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/flatpages/video/mediacenterbc3.html?bctid=77243206001

Community, the amazing thing, once you get a taste of it you just want more and more. At least I do. It got me thinking about all the ways that people have to communicate, to collaborate and to create community. Here’s to an amazing new set of possibilities.

About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Also check out his newly revised best-seller “The Boss’s Survival Guide.” If you have a question for Bob, contact him via bob@workplace911.com.

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